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We Went to the Reopening of the Belle Haven Safeway, Because, Why Not?

The supermarket welcomed 500 guests to its “spring social” reopening party.

The reopened Belle View Safeway, all dressed up for a party. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

We know we live in challenging economic times (with wisps of improvement), but are the times so challenging that even a supermarket needs an opening party—or, in the case of the Belle View Safeway, a reopening party?

Apparently so. Since the market crashed in 2008, Safeway has opened or reopened six stores in the Washington area, and two are slated to open next year. On Thursday evening, company executives welcomed 500 guests to the opening of the more than 40,000-square-foot Belle View store, which had been closed for six months during the renovation. The so-called “spring social” featured classical music, wine pours, buffets of food samples, lots of Easter candy for guests to self serve, and a hefty swag bag.

The customers, at least those we overheard, were impressed. “I wish my mom was still alive to see this,” a woman said to her friends as they entered through red drapes. A man tasting shrimp wrapped in bacon said, “I can’t wait to return to do lots of shopping.” At the crowded cheese buffet, a woman said, “This has been a long time coming.”

Supermarket openings are not new to our social calendar. We were curious to check out the Virginia party because in the spring of 2010 we attended the reopening of the Georgetown Safeway. That party was amazing. Guests were offered flutes of Dom Perignon and Louis Roederer Cristal Champagnes—with refills—as well as glasses of other famous French, Italian, and California wines. It was a very splashy and special party. Would it be the same in Belle View?

Not exactly, but not bad, either. On Thursday evening there were Virginia wines and local craft beers, but the high-priced Champagnes were behind glass cases. The evening’s signature blood orange and tangerine cocktail, a Cherry Blossom, was pretty and sweet—and nonalcoholic.

On the way out we stopped at the check out to ask a clerk about customer reactions she had heard. Lesly D, as her nametag read, said the customers seemed most of all pleased to have the neighborhood store back open. “They had to go to other stores, and we had to work at other stores, too. Everybody’s enthusiastic,” she said.

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