Though Applewood Hy-Vee, at 96th and Q streets, sits a good mile beyond the city limits of Ralston, the store’s highly-visible presence in the community easily qualifies it as the marketplace for most residents and the place where most Ralstonites aren’t shocked when they run into half a dozen of their neighbors.
With that kind of community impact in mind, the store — which opened at its present location in 1989 — is undergoing a renovation and expansion to update its environs and offerings and continue to act as the hub for Ralston’s grocery and general merchandise needs — and more.
“When it opened almost 25 years ago, it was state-of-the-art,” Applewood Hy-Vee Store Director Andrew Yochum. “Time has passed it by since then and we want to make it new again.”
The project started just over a month ago and is expected to be completed at this time next year, Yochum said, a slightly more aggressive schedule than the usual Hy-Vee renovation, which he said usually takes up to 18 months.
“This is a great store and we wanted to move the project along,” he said.
In the meantime, the store will remain open and still stock everything it presently its stocks on its shelves.
“We have to stay open for our customers,” Yochum said. “It’s just a matter of convenience. Everything might be a little bit more scrunched together, but it’s all here.”
Expanding from its present 60,000 square feet to 75,000 square feet, the store will add Chinese, Italian and sushi express meals, a staple of a number of other area Hy-Vee stores, and the traditional kitchen will also be retained.
There will also be an expanded meat counter with a chef’s station for regular culinary demonstrations, and the addition of artisan breads to the store’s bakery and a host of international cheeses in the dairy. The store’s wine and spirits section, currently located in a separate bay just west of the store proper, will be brought in-house.
The pharmacy will expand and add a drive-up lane and coffee lovers will be pleased to hear Starbucks will open a location on site.
Applewood Hy-Vee will also be among a half-dozen or so stores regionally that will bring on a sit-down, table-service restaurant and full-service bar.
“We’re going to have the latest and greatest in cuisine,” Yochum said. “It’s going to be a brand-new experience.”
The restaurant and bar addition, Yochum said, will likely open in March, in advance of the full completion of the remodel. Yochum said, in general, the store will try to work on renovations in sections, so as to be able to open up the new and improved areas as work is completed on them. The parking lot, part of which is closed during the construction, should fully open up again in April.
“Certain things will come on line as they finish up,” he said. “That should help ease the transition.”
The store’s interior fixtures will also undergo an upgrade, with the addition of skylights in the ceiling and a new polished concrete floor which will require less maintenance and fewer harsh chemicals to clean.
Also included as part of the renovation will be a total reconstruction of the Hy-Vee Gas Station just north of the main store.
Deb Gerch, Applewood Hy-Vee’s human resources manager who has been at the store since its opening in 1989, said watching the transition has been exciting.
“We have a great store here and what we’re doing is going to make it even better,” she said. “It’s great to be able to see all this happening for our customers.”