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New Giant Opens on Columbia Pike

by ARLnow.com June 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm 7,168 77 Comments

Cash registers are ringing at the long-awaited Penrose Square Giant on Columbia Pike.

The store opened its doors to customers tonight in advance of its official opening Friday morning. Shoppers enjoyed free wine and food samples and the music of a live mariachi band.

Located at the corner of the Pike and S. Barton Street, the 52,000 square foot store is brand new, with a number of enhancements compared to its Adams Square predecessor. Among the new features:

  • “SCAN IT!” hand-held devices, which allow customers to scan and bag their groceries while they shop
  • “ORDER IT!” deli kiosk, where customers can digitally place deli orders and continue shopping until alert is received
  • Full-service floral department
  • “Enhanced and expansive” produce department
  • Expanded selection of natural and organic food items
  • Bakery with Madelyn cakes and lattice pies
  • Full-service seafood department with “an expanded variety of items,” complimentary marinating and steaming
  • Full-service meat department with expanded selection
  • Energy Star-rated cooking appliances and equipment, heat reducing roof, low-e glass windows, skylights
  • Expanded International section offering variety of Hispanic, Italian, and Asian products
  • Complimentary cart-to-car service
  • An integrated PNC Bank branch

At a 6:00 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony was held, featuring store employees, elected officials and neighborhood leaders.

“Welcome back to Columbia Pike,” said Takis Karantonis, Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. Karantonis called the store opening a “critical moment” in the Pike’s continued development. He added that 7,000 households live within easy walking distance of the store.

The store will bring about 100 new jobs to the area, according to the company. Doors reopen Friday at 6:00 a.m.

More photos, after the jump.

  • Hikin’ the Pike

    It was awesome and beautiful. Thank you Giant for bringing quality to the pike!

    • Thes

      How come this one is so nice, but the one by Spout Run is so awful? Doesn’t Giant and/or the County Board care about North Arlington? /s

      • South Arlington

        So which neighborhood has the worst grocery store now that Penrose is off the list? I’m going with Bluemont or Rosslyn.

        • suzy

          Oh – the Rosslyn Safeway – hands down! I just love dodging panhandlers on my way to get groceries. Plus, if I want quality, fresh produce, or variety, I am sorely out of luck. But it’s my ‘hood, so it has grown on me! I do love the friendly cashiers who always flirt with me, though….

          • NomNom

            Rosslyn Safeway

          • Arlingtonian

            …Have any of you ever been to the Food Star?

          • Food Star Fan

            Yes. And it’s awesome!!!!! Meat and produce are better looking and literally half the price of Giant (ground beef is usually $1 a pound, and looks fresh-ground as opposed to the brownish-gray globs at Giant) Probably a quarter of whatever the prices are at the new giant.

            Of course, if you want to get good deals on diet cherry vanilla dr pepper and funyuns, you’ll have to go to Giant. Food star only sells Inca Kola and chicharrons.

            Oh, and they actually have cashiers.

        • Set the Controls

          Bluemont is awful-the “Slow Safeway.” Winter before last they hid all the carts so people wouldn’t hoard food after the snowstorm-not bad necessarily but kind of interesting.

    • G Clifford Prout

      I do hope they bring back all those cheerful and customer-attentive employees that were at the old store. I so enjoyed listening to them talk to each other completely oblivious of the customers at their registers. You could learn so much about Giant and their management from these conversations. You learned how the new manager was screwing them out of their shift, how headquarters was mistreating them, how much they disliked some of their coworkers. And those employee notices posted outside the office so all could read. “You are forbidden from clocking in more than 30 seconds before your shift. If caught you’ll be forced to mop out the milk cooler.” “Starting Monday you will be allowed a 5 minute restroom break every three hours. All others must be scheduled in advance.” Then of course were those precious stares you’d get if you asked for something followed by a loud sigh as someone begrudgingly checked to see if there was any more brown lettuce for the salad bar. I’ll give them another chance but if only Wegmans would move into Bluemont I’d be one happy pup.

      • Dave

        Giant is awful on just about every level (the only reason I ever go there is because they carry Esskay hot dogs). A Wegmans in Arlington would be so amazing. Even if the one planned for Alexandria would open I’d be happy.

      • G

        Yeah, when I went last night, some of the employees were upset that they now had to work at this Columbia Pike Giant instead of the Bailey’s Giant that they used to work at.

        • G Clifford Prout

          What’s Wegmans’ motto? “Employees first, customers second.” Something like that.

          Wait until the upper level management goes back up to Jersey or wherever they’re from. Things will get back to normal. And by normal I mean atrocious.

      • 5555624

        From what I was told this morning, by Mary, who had been a cashier at the old store, only two cashiers are returning. A total of about four or five employees are returning. I was told that since it was a new store, Giant wanted new employees.

        • G Clifford Prout

          OK, I dropped in to the new Giant this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. Very clean and well stocked. And the staff was falling all over themselves to be helpful and friendly. I suspect this will cease once the bigwheels go back to their HQ.

  • CrystalMikey

    Shame on Zimmy! Where’s your reusable bags buddy?

  • Louise

    Wow, it’s beautiful! Just a teeny improvement over the old one. 😉

  • Arlingtonian

    I just went! I was so excited. I did the “build your own 6-pack” thing and hit up all the sample stations while the mariachi band played. I’m going back again tomorrow. I think I might be slightly too happy about this.

    • Hikin’ the Pike

      Not at all. There are a lot of people who have been waiting a long time for this place to open. Even my 3 year old son was bouncing down the sidewalk screaming, “the Giant is open! The Giant is open!”

  • TGEoA

    Scan your own items sucks

    • BerryBerryCold

      There is a special on CNBC about those items as well as the store “loyalty” cards. They track your every move throughout the store.

      • TGEoA

        So what? I WANT them to track my purchases so they know what I like to eat and put it on sale.

        • Thes

          They will not put what you like to eat on sale. They will raise the prices of those things (because they know you will keep buying them) while at the same time they will give you coupons for items they see you have never before purchased but probably could be induced to start purchasing.

          • SamsontheCat

            I’ll just keep changing what I eat then. One week I’ll only only buy condiments and another week I’ll only buy canned tuna. They’ll never track me.

            Or I’ll switch scanners with someone else so they think I like all things the other guy likes. That’ll trick them.

            How would that work though? If I like apples will they raise the price of apples and lower the price of oranges? What about the guy who likes oranges? Wouldn’t that mean they’d raise the prices of oranges and lower it for apples and I get my apples cheaper? Oh no! A paradox.

          • YTK

            Samson theCat — a Paradox?
            No, I think you mean a Pair-o’-Ducks!
            What makes me laugh (sardonically) is the SAME cherries on sale from Fri to Thursday are priced $2 more per pound the next Friday.
            * * walks away singing “Che-heh-rry, Cherry Baybee….” * *

        • CW

          Move.

      • bb

        My homemade wallet of duct tape and aluminum foil keeps them from tracking me! Just like my tinfoil hat keeps the gub’mint and aliens from reading my brainwaves.

        • Arlingtonian

          My iPhone already tracks everywhere I go anyway

          • bb

            And Steve Jobs is very bored with your choice of destinations…

    • South Arlington

      I thought it ruled. We didn’t have to unbag the stuff from the bags/basket we brought, checkout took 45 seconds.

    • YTK

      No what sucks is the checkout clerk who coughs into her hand and then grabs your produce. And then gives you your change with that same hand.
      Or better yet, the one who wipes her nose with her hand and then…. you get my drift.

  • BoringDan

    I just hope the new staff is better than those who staffed the Giant before it closed for renovation.

  • doug

    Liked the staff before, hope Boring Dan doesn’t work there, cuz, he’s boring…and annoying.

  • Tabby

    What are the hours?

    • BoringDan

      I think they said hours are from 6 a.m. to midnight, except on Sunday when they close at 11:00 p.m.

  • esmith69

    I just read on Pike Wire that they’re stating that “parking will be free for customers for the first month of operation”. Does that mean that after the first month, they’re not going to validate parking like Harris Teeter in Pentagon City does?

    • South Arlington

      Signs are posted all over the garage and around Pentose Square. You get 1 hour free parking always.

  • BoringDan

    @ Doug — the staff was horrible before – rude, slow, and incompetent.

    Ventured over tonight and was very impressed with the new store. Selection is far better than what was previously stocked. Items not carried before used to force me to to run down to the Teeter. Tonight, staff was polite, efficient, and knowledgeable. Hope they can keep it going.

  • ArlForester

    The “order it” is awesome. It beats waiting around. Anyone know if this store has Boars Head?

    • Yes, they do.

    • Arlingtonian

      Yeah, and they even have a Boar’s Head hot dog cart in store during the opening!

  • Black Flag

    I’ll stick with Food Star and MOM’s Organic Market

  • Charles

    “Full-service floral department” well thank god. That’s really what was missing from Columbia Pike.

  • Jeff

    How will shoppers get their carts from the grocery store to their car?

    • esmith69

      There are elevators just outside the entrance doors

    • ArlForester

      Push them?

    • Dan

      Use the trolley…….

    • Novanglus

      Car? What’s a car?

  • charlie

    lovely store and look forward to using it.

  • C-Dub

    The

  • C-Dub

    oops… I clicked too fast. The parking was annoying to me.

    • YTK

      Well, the Metro bus was annoying but at least I didn’t have to park it when I got to Giant’s. I agree that the parking MIGHT be problematic to start with but I think we’ll all get over it.

  • YTK

    So what were those little tables for? Are they going to stay there after the hoopla and be there for customers who want to eat stuff they bought at Giant’s? If so — GREAT! It’s much better than sitting on that bench outside the old Giant and sucking exhaust gas while trying to Nom.

  • YTK

    “….He added that 7,000 households live within easy walking distance of the store.”
    Uh Oh– Scary Demon-graphics ……You know what THAT means: God Help Us on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving!!!!!

  • Tabby

    I’m walking there.

    Just need to buy one of those little old lady grocery carts. Are they sturdy enough to hold two bottles of wine and a case of beer?

    • Cate

      In my experience, yes they are.

  • MC 703

    In image 29 the dude is wearing a Coca Cola shirt and buying Pepsi. WTF!?

    • Amerigo Vespucci

      Also caught him making the purchase in image 1

  • Greg

    I think it’s great they hired Zimmie as a checkout bagger! Way to give our Board members an opportunity to lead a full life!!

  • Tabby

    I loved the mariachi band. Nice touch.

    Image #18 is funny. The boy in the car looks a little too old to be enjoying that, and his brother seems to be saying “I’m parched. I need a drink.”

  • steve

    I just got back from it. It’s nice for arlington. Moco locations still have better selections, though it’s probably due to them losing an aisle here for the beer/wine selection.. They even have those Coors Light minikegs there. I just really hate indoor parking garages for grocery stores. If the place is packed, and you have too many idiots in a small area, problems will happen.

  • HenryES

    Cool, I don’t really like Giant, but It’s the most convenient grocery for me to stop at on the way home.

  • Pat

    Why weren’t we told that there was going to be PAY parking? Where was the worthless CPRO on that? Garage parking is bad enough without having to pay. I’ll take the old strip mall any day.

  • Gretchen

    The new Giant is beautiful. I was really shocked about the pay parking. I like the new store but not enough to pay to park.

  • nota agin

    Lattice pies, gee where have they been and how much more will they cost? Should cost less since the crust is less that a fully covered pie.
    Shouldn’t the enhanced and “expansive” produce read expensive? Giant’s veggies cost the most in the area and not always appealing.
    I too love the employee insightful comments about Giant’s management, etc., and have gagged at the non-sanitary way some cashiers handle products and my money – really disgusting.

  • Joe

    Yeah, CPRO and their worthless Arlington Board buddies pulled a fast one. PAY parking for a friggin’ grocery store? Stick it where the sun don’t shine.

    • South Arlington

      Read earlier zilch. First hour is free always. But keep spreading the ridiculous “theories” that the olds keep pushing to denigrate sone progress on the Pike.

      The new Giant destroys the old terrible strip center and filthy Giant/terrible Safeway.

  • Pat

    Progress? South Arlington must be either a member of the addled Arl County Board or the head up the you know what CPRO. They are the only ones that consider unsightly high rises, pay parking and increased traffic progress. And check out the incredibly ugly poster board other types of signs out side that Giant. Gawd, is that awful.

  • Jim

    Pat: I’m riding your bus. I don’t want the Pike turned into Roslyn or Crystal City and that is just what these clowns have in mind. Totally in the pockets of the developers.

    • Josh S

      The whole “the government is in the pockets of the developers” thing is a bit cliche, isn’t it? I imagine people around the country have been using that one for decades. It’s a handy throw away whine when faced with the inevitable development that comes to areas where the population is growing and the economy is strong. It’s kinda like complaining about the humidity during the summertime. It’s gonna happen.

      • Webster

        Kind of like TOD and “walkability” is so cliche. Tired of hearing it all the time. People just throw it in to conversations all the time and whine about cars giving people more freedom from being herded around like cattle in subways. I understand some people are fearful of how cars and roads allow economic disparity to become evident and rich people can exploit their advantages over the transit dependent. But really, it’s going to happen.

  • Elle Kasey

    This is officially the Helm’s Deep Giant. Oh wait, Helm’s Deep was eventually penetrated. It is ridiculous to get into and out of. – An elevator from the parking garage? No direct entry? And I had no cell service inside. Thank you AT&T and ridiculous fortress. I guess I might go back one day if it’s raining and everyone is at work, and I don’t have anywhere to be or need to buy anything. What a disappointment after such a long wait!

  • k

    This board is full of a bunch of negative nellies! Yes, OMG there is an elevator if you need to get your card down to the garage. GOD FORBID we help reduce sprawl by having a parking garage instead of a massive strip mall. Who cares about the environment or smart community planning? Obviously we all need massive parking lots spread out of 2 square miles so we can take our giant SUV and park it over three spaces.

    I loved the store. I can walk there (then again I live at one of the horrific new highrises everyone complains about). I found the staff to be very helpful and cheerful. We even had someone offer to put our portable cart together for us. The produce selection was decent. The store was clean and the aisle’s large and easily managable. The international aisle was awesome (hello tamarindo soda). It wasn’t even that busy and we went there on a Friday evening after work. I say good job Giant!

  • Josh S

    After so many years waiting, I was disappointed. I’m not sure what I expected, after all, it’s just a grocery store. And it is undeniably better than the old one. Plus I don’t have to visit the CVS for milk and deal with the incredibly poor service there.

  • Jeff

    I’ve been twice so far, and the only annoying thing I’ve seen was the workers sitting outside on their breaks smoking. One guy was sitting on those steps on the way up, and others sitting right next to the entrance. Not exactly a good impression to put forth on your shiny new store by making people have to walk through clouds of smoke past dirty smokers.

  • Joe

    The concept that progress equals big condo/retail/office buildings is absurd. What I see at Columbia Pike and South Barton is not an improvement over a renovated strip mall. At least in terms of aesthetics, convenience for the public, the environment and the long term future of Arlington County and the Pike. I am sure the local politicians campaign funds are up, however.

  • RT

    All I can say is….Yeah!!!! It’s a big step forward. For me, being within walking distance trumps ALL other considerations. However, I do wish that the Cowboy Cafe was still around.

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