Sitting on a storied site less than two miles from the U.S. Capitol building, Safeway’s newest location in Washington, D.C., brings some of the latest ideas in the grocery chain’s playbook to a spot that housed another Safeway until two years ago.
That store was torn down in mid-2018 to make way for a mixed-use development that occupies land that over the decades has been home to a brewery, an ice cream factory, an amusement park and a creamery.
The new Safeway, which opened to the public Wednesday morning and will be open around the clock, anchors the Capitol Hill building, located at 425 14th Street SE. Three-hundred twenty-five apartments and additional retail space are also part of the project, known as Beckert’s Park.
Officials of Safeway and co-developer Foulger-Pratt showed off the new supermarket to invited guests and the media Tuesday as workers put the finishing touches on the gleaming, 60,236-square-foot store. The store is the first newly constructed Safeway location in the city since 2014.
Staffed by a crew of about 350, the store will carry more than 3,700 new items in addition to the everyday products it sells, according to Safeway.
The popcorn bar
The new Safeway has several features that set it apart from other supermarkets. A dedicated counter offers multiple flavors of popcorn from Nuts on Clark, an iconic Chicago popcorn seller. In a nod to Washington’s mid-Atlantic location, one of those flavors is based on a recipe from Maryland’s Old Bay company, known for its seafood seasoning.
Seafood, sushi and meat
The store's seafood selection is one of its standout attractions. Customers will be able to purchase fish and other items from a 36-foot case that holds natural, fresh and smoked items. Additional attractions include a sushi bar and a raw bar that offers nine local types of oysters, including the roaring point, blackberry and Chincoteague varieties, in multiple flavors and salinity levels.
The meat department lets shoppers pre-order dry-aged choice beef ribeye and New York strip steaks aged from 21 to 42 days. Other choices include organic, grass-fed, natural and choice grade beef and organic, natural and antibiotic-free chicken.
The deli features a BBQ sandwich bar, poke bowls, more than 200 varieties of cheese and a charcuterie.
Baked goods and a gelato bar
One side of the new Safeway is defined by a well-stocked bakery that offers store-baked breakfast and dessert items including artisan breads, croissants, monkey bread and hand-dipped caramel apples. Also on tap are 24 flavors of gelato that can be served in cups, cones or cookie sandwiches, plus four flavors of mochi ice cream.
A salad bar for the COVID era
The new store's prepared food choices include salad, hot and soup bars that are designed to be self-service, but a store associate will serve customers because of safety concerns related to the pandemic. Only one side of the salad bar is stocked with salad items, while the rest of the cooler is filled with pre-packaged goods.
Walk-in wine cellar
A centerpiece of the store is its alcohol department, which boasts the largest wine and beer selection Safeway offers in the Washington region. The store is home to a 500-bottle walk-in wine cellar that has a wine steward on call to assist shoppers and a separate spirits room. According to Safeway, the supermarket is the only grocery store in the city that sells spirits.
Produce and fresh-squeezed juices
The location offers customers an expansive produce section that showcases the supermarket's bright, airy layout. The store carries a broad selection of organic fruits and vegetables, including fresh-cut options. Customers can also go home with fresh-squeezed juices and beverages like kombucha. International produce is also on the menu.
Spotlight on self checkout
The new store features 12 self-checkout stations arranged around a spacious section at the front end of the store, but only five traditional checkout aisles.