By Jeff Kiger
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Groceries are coming to downtown Rochester — in a small way.
Eagle Grocery, a 580-square-foot mini-store, is under development on First Avenue Southwest next to its parent, the landmark Eagle Drug Store. The drug store has entrances on Second Street Southwest and First Avenue next to the new grocery.
The Williams family, longtime owner of Eagle Drug at 23 Second St. S.W., is opening the grocery to fulfill what it sees as a need downtown and to help the drug store.
"This is for people stuck downtown in hotels or for people who work here that want a quick bite," said John Williams. "That’s what our business is … the people that are here."
Williams, who is doing much of the construction work, hopes to have the new store open by mid-October.
While details are still being worked out, the plan is to carry basics such as milk, eggs, bread, cereal, meat and canned goods in Eagle Grocery. Deli-style sandwiches will be sold, and a microwave will be available for shoppers to heat up frozen meals.
Opening a new store means the crowded Eagle Drug can free up some space as food items move next door.
"We’re so packed. Now, we’ll be able to unclutter the place," Williams said.
More product lines will be added to the drug store, and gift items currently on high shelves will move down closer to customers.
After the grocery opens, the family plans to do some remodeling at the drug store, including painting, installing new flooring and reorganizing products.
The store moved to its current location in 1987, and most of the drug store is exactly the way it was in the 1980s.
Warren Williams, John’s father, bought the store from the Hargesheimer family in 1975 and sees the grocery as an enhancement to Eagle Drug.
"I think it will make a big difference," he said.
The question is, "Will people buy groceries downtown?"
"I think so. We know the flow of everything down here pretty well," John Williams said right after selling snacks at 5:30 p.m. to a man who had missed lunch.
For more information about downtown businesses, see www.postbulletin.com/weblinks.