Local dignitaries broke bread to reopen the Loblaws store in Forest Hill on Dec. 6.
St. Paul’s MP Carolyn Bennett, Ward 21 councillor Joe Mihevc and store manager Mike Osqui gave short speeches and joined Reni Kratka, an executive assistant with Daily Bread Food Bank, to slice up an eight-foot-long baguette to mark the official reopening of the store on St. Clair Avenue West, east of Bathurst Street.
The store had been remodelled in the style of the downtown Loblaws location inside the old Maple Leaf Gardens.
Osqui also presented a $1,000 cheque to the Daily Bread Food Bank on behalf of his store. Kratka accepted the cheque, saying it was going toward the food bank’s goal this year of raising $2.5 million and one million pounds of food.
“Loblaws has been a long-time supporter of the work Daily Bread does,” Kratka said. “And, on a personal note, this is my neighbourhood and this is my local grocery store so I’m very pleased to be here representing Daily Bread.”
Mihevc reminisced about the times Loblaws has helped with community events, and how his presence at the reopening is a small way of returning the favour.
“They’re a great community partner, they’re a great part of the fabric of this neighbourhood, a great part of the redevelopment and reinvigoration of this neighbourhood,” Mihevc said. “So when the invitation comes to participate in a new moment for Loblaws, we’re there for you as well.”
Bennett spoke on Canada needing a comprehensive food strategy and suggested the expanded variety at the store is a step in the right direction.
“We say so often that this country is only as good as the neighbourhoods that make it up,” Bennett said. “And places where you can great food are what you need in great neighbourhoods.”
Along with expanding products available, Osqui, who has been manager for two years, said Loblaws was also focusing on expanding customer service with the new changes.
“We wanted to bring customer service to another higher level,” he said while giving a tour of the new upgrades. “We opened up an assortment on organics, on ethnic, on international, kosher — that was the main concept.”
Osqui oversaw much of the six-month renovation of the store, which now includes its own sushi bar, run by T&T Sushi, who prepared an eight-foot long sushi roll for the day’s festivities before slicing it up and serving it to customers.
There is also an expanded deli counter, a patisserie, organic juices made daily, Ace Bakery, who ring a bell every time the Montreal bagels are ready, and a 12-foot wall of cheese, which features about 100 types of the store’s 460 different offerings.
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