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Raley's representatives Chelsea Minor and Mark Henriott talked with the Kiwanis Club. Click photo for larger image.

Two representatives of Raley's visited Rancho Murieta Thursday night, fielding questions from nearly 100 people at the Kiwanis Club's meeting. Audience members asked about a wide range of topics: Will it be a Raley's? Will there be a pharmacy? What about the rumors of another supermarket opening in the Plaza Foods space?

Chelsea Minor, the company’s director of public relations and public affairs, was joined by Mark Henriott, the senior director of real estate. They spoke for almost 40 minutes, with Minor handling much of the presentation.

Minor’s comments, echoing an on-screen presentation, covered familiar ground: The company was founded in 1935 and is now in its third generation of family management. It has 121 stores in Northern California and Nevada, operating under a variety of brands – Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill, Food Source and Aisle 1 gas stations. The company employs about 12,000 people.

She couldn’t say which of the Raley’s brands would land in Murieta, but she said a Food Source store, which is a warehouse operation, is not a good fit. “You will not see a Food Source in this community,” she said.

The Murieta store will be about 35,000 square feet, almost twice the size of Plaza Foods.  It will be across Murieta Drive from Murieta Plaza. Minor said it will be “the traditional grocery store that has all the bells and whistles, that sells books to pencils to produce to milk.” There will be a full-service deli with eating area, meat department, bakery and “an incredible wine selection” with an in-house wine expert – but no pharmacy, she said, drawing disappointed mumbles from the crowd.

Raley's announced its plans in May, as Plaza Foods was on its deathbed. The business has since been evicted.

Construction will begin this fall, Minor said, and should be complete in a year. Her presentation included hard-to-see photos of existing stores that suggest the kind of design Murieta could see – open floor plans, wood tones, skylights, nicely arranged produce. (These photos were not included in the version of the presentation attached here.)

She said the company is working with four of its stores – on Elk Grove-Florin Road in Elk Grove, Gold Centre Lane in Gold River, Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento and Elk Grove Boulevard in Elk Grove – to address the interim needs of Rancho Murieta shoppers.

She pointed to the company’s eCart operation, which allows you to order groceries online and have them delivered to your car in the store parking lot. She also said the company would be willing to consider deliveries to Rancho Murieta if there’s enough interest.

Here, occasional jokes aside, are the questions and comments from the audience and the responses:

Will there be designated golf cart parking? Also, Raley’s should consider adding a pharmacy. (The pharmacy comment was applauded.) Maybe pharmacy services could be limited, possibly only one day a week.

Minor: Yes on the golf carts. There are a lot of overhead costs in running a pharmacy. There may be an alternative to a full-service pharmacy.

When we heard about this, we were thinking this is impossible, because we don’t have the rooftops. How did that happen?

Henriott: “If you look at the trade area we have drawn for the store, there’s plenty of house tops in today’s market, today’s world. We also see it as an opportunity to grow with the community as the community starts to grow.”

Will it be a Raley’s or a Bel Air?

Minor: We don’t know yet. (An audience member suggested Bel Air – because their bread is so good.)

Will the deli have an eating area?

Minor: Yes.

Will there be a coffee shop like Peet’s?

Minor and Henriott: It’s under consideration.

Will there be a gas station?

Minor: Not under the current plans.

When will the new supermarket on Sunrise Boulevard open?

Henriott: Next spring. “It will be a 40,000-square-foot store. And it will be a Raley’s.”

What were the key factors that brought Raley’s to Rancho Murieta?

Henriott: If you look at our company’s strategy for growing in the Sacramento area and you look at the voids we have, this is one such area. Plus it offers the chance to grow with a community. The Rancho Murieta site and the one at Sunrise and Douglas are opportunities to serve customers today and to grow tomorrow.

Will Raley’s have a program for our teenagers to give them work training?

Minor: It’s a great point and we can look into it. We don’t have anything like that today.

All our shopping options are a half-hour away. Many residents of Murieta Village only drive golf carts. Is there any possibility that Raley’s would consider going into the Plaza temporarily and transitioning across the street once it's built?

Minor: The company has focused on eCart as the best interim answer for Murietans, but “I’m happy to take that (suggestion) back to our executive team and see what considerations we may be able to have. ... I can’t make any promises, but we can definitely look into it.”

If there’s a slowdown in the building of new homes, will that change Raley’s plans for construction?

Henriott: “We made the decision to build this store based on the current rooftops we have in the trade area today.” Otherwise Raley’s wouldn’t have done this.  “We made the decision based on today’s numbers. So, by doing that, we know for sure that if we meet the certain revenue stream that we think we can generate at the current rooftops we have today, we’re going to be just fine.” Future growth will be “gravy for us.”

Once the store is open, is Raley’s interested in partnering with Kiwanis to help deliver meals to shut-ins?

Minor: Yes.

There’s a very, very strong rumor that the owner of the Ione supermarket seems to be in the process of moving into Plaza Foods now.  A second person in the audience: The rumor is that in 30 to 60 days they’re supposed to stock the store.

Minor: We’ll try to get information.

Even though your sign is up, people are still saying it will never happen.

Minor: I’m here to tell you it’s going to happen.

What hurdles do you still have to clear?

Henriott: Plans must be submitted and permits obtained. We’re in that process now. We’re finalizing what the inside of the store is going to look like. We know for sure we want to be open by fall of next year and we’re doing everything we can to get there.

Will there be a bank inside the store?

Henriott: To my knowledge, there will be not.

This project is dependent on the development’s funding. We've seen the hotel project postponed again and again.

Henriott: “There are protections in the lease that we have, that they have to perform. So their feet are held to the fire. ... I don’t see any issues whatsoever from my perspective opening the store next fall.”

How does the store sit on the lot? Where is it facing?

Henriott: The store will face the intersection but be turned back a bit to the east. (See the county plan for the layout.) There will be additional retail there.

Will the ingress and egress be difficult?

Henriott: I think you’ll be surprised. We’ve been very careful with that, working with the developers. I think you’ll be very happy.

Can you tell us anything about the amount of additional retail there will be?

Henriott: I can’t speak for the developers.

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