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Efficient, spacious — with ready-to-go meals: Sayers Foods … – The Peterborough Examiner

The construction site at 132 Burleigh St. in Apsley where the new Sayers Foods grocery store is set to open in the spring following a fire two years ago that destroyed North Kawartha Township's only grocery store. The posts will form the perimeter of the building, the steel structure that will eventually hold the roof.

The construction site at 132 Burleigh St. in Apsley where the new Sayers Foods grocery store is set to open in the spring following a fire two years ago that destroyed North Kawartha Township's only grocery store. The posts will form the perimeter of the building, the steel structure that will eventually hold the roof.

Spring opening expected as frame of building nears completion.

By Brendan BurkeLocal Journalism Initiative Reporter

Thu., Dec. 29, 20224 min. read

Article was updated 2 hrs ago

APSLEY — With construction well underway at Apsley’s new Sayers Foods, the grocery store promises to be more modern, efficient and spacious. But one thing is sure to remain the same: the store’s unique small-town charm that coloured the community for decades.

“We’re trying to keep that throughout the design of the store; keep that kind of rustic charm and country feeling throughout the store, while keeping the good parts and eliminating the bad parts,” store manager Jeff Sayers told The Examiner.

“Sometimes it goes too quaint and too cosy. We’re going to open it up and make it more of a supermarket feel but maintain that country charm and that social aspect.”

The 14,000-square-foot building is heading toward completion after walls were erected in November following the excavating and installing of sewage and fire suppression systems last summer.

The store’s foundation and footing is completed, and all underground planning is finished. Structural steel is starting to go up — a process Sayers expects to wrap up by the end of the month. After that, it’s on to the roof. At the moment, the store is a “partially constructed steel structure,” explained Sayers.

Two years ago, the storied Sayers Foods burned to the ground in a devastating fire that shook the close-knit rural village, leaving North Kawartha Township residents without a full-service grocery store. Since then, community members have been forced to make long trips to Bancroft or Lakefield to pick up their groceries.

After the dust settled in December 2020, Sayers and management went straight to work to rebuild, choosing to resurrect the Apsley staple on the same site at 132 Burleigh St.

As the new store’s exterior takes shape, Sayers has big plans for the interior of the new Sayers Foods.

“One of the big things is when I designed the floor plan, I created all the fresh departments at the front and then all your traditional dried groceries, frozen dairy at the back so we could have the front half of the store a social, interactive environment where you can see across the whole space,” Sayers said.

“ It’s more of an open space as opposed to the structured aisles of a traditional grocery store. The front half is an open concept and fresh market feel,” he continued.

Among the myriad of new features the store will feature, Sayers is especially excited about introducing a deli café at the front of the store.

“It will be a big change for the community,” Sayers said.

“The community we live in is not on municipal water. It’s very rural. It’s very, very seasonal. So you don’t have big chains; you don’t have the same amenities that people from the city are more comfortable with.”

With the new store’s deli café, which will include a deep fryer and a combi oven, shoppers will be able to pre-order meals so it can be ready exactly when they need it or people can pop in, grab their food and go,” said Sayers, adding the time-saver will be convenient for a lot of workers and people operating on a time budget.

“We’ve put in a hot food counter so there’s food already instantly ready when you come in,” he said.

With the new store, Sayers is not just focusing on improving customer experience — he wants to create a comfortable space for employees who work around the clock.

“The space was used really inefficiently before. It had a residential apartment (where we grew up). We’re repurposing that into a staff lounge, office space and supply storage space. We want to make it more comfortable and inviting for employees,” Sayers said.

While construction now is moving full steam ahead, Sayers and store management had to clear a number of hurdles to get there.

Dealing with a market plagued with shortages and delays, Sayers Foods had to play the waiting game when it came to bringing in steel for the rebuild — a hiccup that’s since been resolved for the most part. But, most notably, Sayers Foods engaged in a back-and-forth with its insurers that hampered the rebuild.

Before ground was broken, Sayer Foods’ Insurers took exception to early designs of the new store, leading to months of delays — characterized as “frustrating” by Sayers in previous interviews with The Examiner — that stalled the project.

Contractor Gay Company Ltd. went ahead with early construction work nevertheless, and, in August, Sayers Foods and their insurers went through an objective appraisal process.

Ultimately, according to Sayers, an appraisal umpire “overwhelmingly” sided in Sayers Foods’ favour, meaning the insurers were ordered to pay 99.6 per cent of the rebuild costs as determined by the competitive tender process.

Sayers says he feels collective “sustained, continuous” support from community members post-fire as the company rebuilds. He “appreciates every bit of support,” even the little things, like residents plowing snow from the construction.

Sayers hopes to hold a grand opening of the new store in April, May or June.

BB

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.