You’ve seen all the work underway just below the U.S. 411/U.S. 41 split north of Cartersville since the first of the year.

Even amid supply and equipment issues, a 59,000-square-foot Food City store is quickly coming together — and that doesn’t include the seven-pump “gas n’ go” station that is part of the project.

The site at 1914 Joe Frank Harris Parkway SE just off the intersection of Mac Johnson Road might seem a little remote based on looks alone. We’ve seen RaceTrac, a new auto parts store and a few others build north of Grassdale in recent years but nothing like this investment — some $12-$15 million, including escalating costs for just about everything. That eight-digit number includes the land, the buildings, even the inventory due on shelves and in ample food service areas by late summer.

Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer, and his team see something else — what’s ahead for that area and for the region. There’s already a need for Food City in the area, Smith says, citing “a lot of growth out there.” And he expects much more is on the way. In fact, there’s already talk of a second Bartow Food City as well as another store in Calhoun. The first one, on Lovers Lane, opened in December 2019 and offers 48,000 square feet, which is about 23% smaller than the North Cartersville store.

So how about Rome? “There’s nothing we can announce,” Smith said, quickly adding, “Our real estate people are looking at Rome.”

For now, all eyes are on the store at the crossroads area which will draw from Cartersville, Adairsville and eastern Floyd County. Part of that lure is going to be what is available in addition to traditional groceries.

The food service area will include some traditional grab-and-grow items. They’ll be joined by a Chinese wok, a hot bar, a wings bar, a Starbucks kiosk and a bakery in plain view with bread, baked goods and other items made fresh daily. There’s even a sit down café planned if customers would rather enjoy on the spot vs. at home or in the car. Even the produce department will have a “butcher” of sorts, cutting fresh fruit daily akin to what you’re used to seeing in the meat department. Outside at the “hard corner” of the site will be the gas-and-go station.

Add to that a floral boutique staffed daily, a pharmacy with a patient consulting room, seven traditional check-out lanes and nine self-checkouts, and a curbside pickup service who customers preferring online shopping.

All of that translates into another asset — jobs. Smith estimates they’ll hire 200-plus people “in addition to the people we transfer in” to help run the store. “We’ll name our store manager in a week or so,” Smith says, with other hiring to be announced soon (please click here to watch for postings). The manager, once named, will then build his or her team.

During ground breaking ceremonies in February, Smith gave a preview of what’s to come: “We look forward to constructing a state-of-the-art supermarket that will create quality jobs and tax revenue for the citizens of Bartow County.”

And more could be on the way.

Northwest Georgia’s grocery growth: As some stores have left, including an IGA and Piggly Wiggly, in recent years, more have arrived in the past decade.

In Rome: Publix and Aldi are the newest players while East Rome’s latest Kroger — opened in 2003 — grew from 60,000 to more than 80,000 square feet. (Aldi also expanded after opening off Turner McCall) Lidl had plans for Shorter Avenue but that project never materialized. Both Walmarts have gone through remodels — and are doing so again. Food Lion in Armuchee just went through a $700,000-plus refit as well.

In Cartersville: The massive Kroger Marketplace off Main Street near the I-75 interchange replaced an outdated store on the other end of Main off Joe Frank Harris Parkway. Aldi arrived as well. And while Lidl didn’t announce store plans there, at one time the grocer was plotting a Bartow distribution center.

In Calhoun: Food City opened in December 2019 while Aldi also added a store in December 2015. Lidl announced plans there as well before pulling back.

All that doesn’t count the number of ethnic stores popping up throughout the market, especially along Shorter Avenue. Included is La Mexicana with one of the largest meat counters in the region. The store also expanded its cafe area into a full-service restaurant next door.

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