Albertsons Foodie Store Holds 'Potato-Palooza'

Published online: Sep 27, 2018 Articles Rand Green
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Source: The Produce News 

In late July, Albertsons Cos. LLC in Boise, Idaho, the second-largest supermarket chain in North America, opened the first of its new Market Street culinary concept stores within sight of Boise State University’s Albertsons Stadium. Since its opening, the foodie-oriented store has held a series of weeklong events, each focusing on a specific theme. For the week beginning Tuesday, Sept. 18, the theme was Potato Palooza.The Big Idaho Potato Truck made its final stop of the 2018 Famous Idaho Potato Tour Sept. 22 for the Potato Palooza event at the new Albertsons on Broadway store. The tour’s Tater Team members Kaylee Wells and Jessica Coulthard are shown here with Miss Idaho, Nina Forest.

Fresh specialty potatoes and an assortment of potato products were featured throughout the store, along with an array of food items incorporating potatoes and even a locally made boutique beer by Bear Island called Idaho Potato Ale made, with Idaho russets as an ingredient. Additionally, the Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato Truck made an appearance at the extravaganza on Saturday, Sept. 22 — the final stop on the truck’s eighth annual nationwide tour

The newly constructed store, known as Albertsons on Broadway, replaces an older Albertsons in the same neighborhood that was recently demolished. At the store’s ground breaking, Albertsons CEO Bob Miller said that Boise shoppers “had better ready themselves for a brand-new shopping scene, unlike any other in Idaho.” Albertsons, he said, is “creating a culinary experience that invites customers to Eat Life Up with the formal introduction of Market Street Idaho.”

The new format, said Susan Morris, executive vice president and chief operating officer, “was created by a team of passionate, innovative food lovers with the goal of igniting Idaho’s passion for great food and elevated experiences.”

The Albertsons Market Street format was inspired by the Market Street Stores in Texas operated by United Supermarkets LLC, which Albertsons acquired in 2013.

Through exclusive culinary delights and unique dishes, the store will encourage customers to hone their inner chef through in-store culinary events and classes as well as time-savers like catering services, an in-store-style food court and other gourmet creations, according to an Albertsons press release.

A second Albertsons Market Street store is under construction in nearby Meridian, Idaho, and is scheduled to open later this year.

“We are going to perfect these models” and then “strategically put them in different areas” both within and outside of Idaho, said store director Brian Conley. “Customers love this model, and we would be crazy not to expand it.”

The Broadway store in Boise does not actually carry the Market Street banner as originally planned but retains the Albertsons banner, a decision made largely because of the store’s proximity to Albertsons Stadium.The store’s concept is “all about people, product and experience,” Conley said. “We are very passionate about food, education, teaching people how to cook, teaching them how to pair food and wine. We have a scratch kitchen” with chef-prepared meals. We have a wood-fired pizza oven, a super-expanded sushi bar, a scratch bakery, a burger station and a sandwich station. We have a chocolatier, gelato, a butcher block. We have 20 to 30 types of fresh fish -- not frozen--every day. We have a grill on the butcher block where we cook samples for food and wine paring. There is always something cooking.”

And there are always events going on, such as the Potato Palooza or a recently held huckleberry event.

“A lot of people come here” not just from the Boise area but also from throughout Idaho and even out-of-state, said Tomas Wheaton, assistant store director. “It is a destination tour. Everyone who comes here just loves it.“

The store concept focuses strongly on local produce and other local products. “We went to the [Boise] Farmer’s Market for 10 weeks” talking to the local vendors, Conley said. From huckleberries to ciders to cotton candy, “we tried to bring in everyone at the farmers market,” and most of them are now bringing their products to the new Albertsons on Broadway. The same concept will be incorporated in the Meridian Market Street and others that follow.

Rachel Dickerson, in-store events planner for Albertsons on Broadway, gave The Produce News a tour of the store, pointing out the veritable “smorgasbord of potatoes” that is being offered to shoppers during the Potato Palooza promotion.

“We are just trying to have an explosion of potatoes everywhere in the store,” she said.

A large permanent demo station is located just inside the main entrance. “We have a different theme every week” and always demo something to match the current theme, she said. For the Potato Palooza, it was a potato sausage made from fresh pork and fresh potatoes, created in-house by the store’s meat department, served with a made-from-scratch potato roll from the store’s bakery.

“We wanted to show off our in-house sausages that we make,” Dickerson said. “We do a lot of different flavors.”

A buffet bar offered several fresh-made potato dishes. “This week, we are also having a hot baked potato bar” with assorted cheeses and other toppings, she said.

The pizza station was offering steak-and-potatoes pizza. “We also have poutine fries,” which are a favorite with the store’s clientele, Dickerson said. In the deli, “we’ve got some standards” such as twice-baked potatoes, potato wedges and potato salad, as well as several unique potato creations that “we’re trying to highlight during this week, because potatoes are Idaho’s favorite veggie.”

The chocolatier was offering some chocolate-dipped potato chips, and the bakery had an assortment of cakes and pastries featuring potatoes, including single-serve cake squares topped with chocolate-dipped chips, offered in clamshells with “Potato Palooza” stickers on top.

Every food station and service department throughout the store offered sampling.

Among the featured fresh potato offerings were baby potatoes and other specialty potatoes in consumer packs with the Melissa’s brand. The potatoes were grown by Magic Valley Growers in Wendell, Idaho, just a two-hour drive from Boise.

“We do all specialty potatoes and onions, but for this event we are displaying our specialty potatoes,” said Magic Valley CEO Bob Rietveld, who was on hand for the Potato Palooza. “Our flagship potato is the baby Dutch Yellow potato, an heirloom variety known for incredible taste and culinary characteristics. We also have other colored varieties.”

Magic Valley Growers has had an exclusive partnership with Melissa’s for nearly 27 years, when both companies were in their infancy, he said.