Sunday, January 6, 2019

Publix #1563 - Banana River Square - Cocoa Beach, FL

Publix #1563
2067 N. Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach, FL – Banana River Square

     Publix #1563 opened on May 31, 2018 as a replacement for Publix #107, which once stood in the location of the new building and dated back to 1983. Publix #107 closed on September 16, 2017 in order to make way for the demolition of the old building and construction of the new one.

     In early May 2018, I decided to take a drive up to Cocoa Beach to investigate how the construction was coming along on the town's new Publix store, hoping to possibly find out a grand opening date as I knew that day should have been approaching soon. In this photo we can see the progress on the new Publix building as of May 8, 2018, with the signs up, parking lot freshly paved, and everything looking ready to go! From seeing this it looked like the new store would be opening very soon – and I was certainly right about that! After taking a quick look at the progress on the new Publix, I drove up the road to the other Cocoa Beach Publix (Store #1098, which I have fully photographed for a future store tour) to ask about the new store’s opening date. The cashier, who was extremely friendly (and excited for the opening of the new Banana River Square store herself), informed me the grand opening date for the new Publix would be May 31, 2018. It’s amazing how fast the 9 months between the old store's closure and the new one's opening flew by, as it didn’t seem like too long ago when I was walking around the old store for the last time!

     Here’s another photo of the new Publix store’s exterior, which is actually pretty nice for a modern Publix store. It’s nothing fancy, but it has a little more detail than the typical modern Publix exterior (such as the green awnings on the right side of the building). The construction crew was busy working on some final detailing on the exterior while I was here, but at this point much of the remaining work was probably on the interior as preparations are made to get this place open by the end of the month. With the signs now up on the building and everything looking ready to go, a few people were pulling into the parking lot thinking this Publix was already open for business (as it looks that way driving by on Route A1A). However, entering the parking lot and seeing all the construction equipment, those potential shoppers soon found out that wasn’t the case!

     Jumping ahead three weeks, here we can see the new store has officially opened! The photos of this store that we'll see in the remainder of this post were taken on June 2, 2018, two days after the store's grand opening. At that time grand opening mode was still in full force throughout the store, just with a smaller crowd compared to the first day (and also a lack of a Publix reusable bag giveaway, another Publix opening day staple). Like I said previously, much of what you’ll see here is typical of Publix stores opened in the last few years, especially with the store’s layout and décor. However, there are a few new things I noticed on this visit, which I’ll explain as I go through this post.

     As to be expected, the new Publix is a completely different experience from its predecessor that stood at this site for the last 35 years. While those older Publix stores have a certain charm to them that the newer stores seem to lack, this new (and much larger) Publix is certainly a welcome addition for the people of Cocoa Beach. Also, as you may recall, I mentioned that the original Cocoa Beach Publix was the very first Publix store that I ever visited back in October 1999. It turns out the new Cocoa Beach store would mark another Publix milestone for me – nearly 20 years later, Publix #1563 ended up becoming the 60th Publix I’ve visited personally.

     Before jumping into the photos of the store itself, the beginning of this post will focus on Publix #1563's grand opening flyer, which was included as an addition to the usual weekly circular. In addition to some grand opening specials for this store only, the grand opening flyer also talked about some of the store’s new features as well. This was the front of the grand opening flyer, which featured the new store’s hours and location.

     Flipping to the next page, we find a map and directory of the new Cocoa Beach Publix on the left, with the first page of the weekly circular on the right. Since the circular was too wide to fit on my scanner, I had to take these pictures with my phone camera. Even after quite a few tries, this was the best I could do trying to focus the whole thing. You can still make out most of the map though, which shows the layout of this store (and is the same layout for most Publix stores built in the last decade).

     The last two pages of the grand opening flyer are pictured here. The page on the left features some specials from the store’s deli and liquor departments, while the page on the right is primarily about the bakery. In addition to the bakery items, there is also a short message from store manager Billy Wiles on that page welcoming shoppers to the new Publix. Mr. Wiles was actually standing at the front entrance when I visited this store two days after the official opening, shaking everyone’s hand as they entered and welcoming them to the new store. I thought that was a nice touch for the opening weekend festivities.

     Lastly (as far as my grand opening souvenirs are concerned) is this store directory that I picked up. It’s not the most exciting thing visually, but I’m sure these were quite helpful to everyone getting used to the layout of the new store!

     Now that we got the grand opening mementos out of the way, we'll start off our tour of the new Cocoa Beach Publix with this overview of the new store’s exterior. It's certainly a more upscale design the the typical modern Publix facade.

     Here is a closer view of the new Cocoa Beach Publix’s exterior as we prepare to enter the building. If you look under the main Publix sign near the front doors, you can see a hot dog cart that had been set up for the grand opening festivities. That hot dog cart and a gift card raffle were the only grand opening festivities that continued to linger two days after the store originally opened.

     Turning to a different angle of the exterior, we can see the “Now Open!” signs that Publix installed to announce this store’s grand opening. Behind the “Now Open!” signs was a small selection of beach toys, which was an addition to the even larger selection of beach gear kept inside.

     Walking through the front doors and turning to the right, we find the floral department (visible to my right) and the bakery. The décor is the usual Classy Market 3.0 fare that just about every other Publix store has in some shape or form, so no oddities or surprises on that front as that décor slowly creeps toward being 6 years old.

     Spinning 90 degrees now to get a better view of the floral department, which was stuffed between the front entrance and the bakery. There was a party of managers standing around this part of the store between the customer service desk and the entrance, which made getting a picture of the floral department a bit tricky at first (the back of one of those managers even made it into this photo). However, I don’t know what I was worrying about though. While I was waiting for my photo opportunity, I watched a lady walk into the store and whip out her phone to take a picture of (who I presume was) her daughter in front of a produce display located at the front entrance, in front of all of those managers, and they all could have all cared less about it! Well, it was grand opening weekend after all, so I guess some photo taking is to be expected! As Retail Retell commented about my little story, "Even though it's really no different from what we do, I always feel that other picture takers like you describe have it easier. :P"

     Moving along now, here is a closer view of the (rather spacious) bakery department, which is located in the front right corner of the store.

     Along the right side wall, just beyond the bakery, is the deli department. The deli counter is to the right, with refrigerated cases of various prepackaged salads to the left. Produce is in the background, but we’ll look at that part of the store later.

     Here’s another view of the deli counter, this time looking back toward the bakery. The Pub Sub station is partly visible at the far left edge of this image. In this image I also caught part of one of the free sample stations that were set up for the grand opening weekend crowd. I was here a bit early in the day, so none of the sample stands were open yet, unfortunately. It was only as I was about to leave when they started to bring the samples out! As Retail Retell said, "Darn! That's always how that seems to work :P" I know! Publix must have been waiting for me to leave before starting!

     Here is one of the new features I noticed while visiting this store. In most Publix deli departments, the prepared foods and pre-sliced meats are kept in a variety of small coolers surrounding the deli department. At this store, in addition to a small section of the usual coolers, the first half of aisle 1 was dedicated to a large, well organized Grab and Go section (complete with its own new sign). While this store doesn’t have an extremely wide array of prepared foods (like the larger Publix prototype stores), this Grab and Go section is a nicer way to present what prepared foods these smaller Publix stores do carry.

     Another new feature this store had was a salad bar. While salad bars aren’t new to Publix, they are new to the smaller sized stores. Until this day, the only Publix stores I’d seen with salad bars were the larger prototype locations (like this one). This store is one of Publix’s 45M model stores (in case anyone is interested), which is the most common of Publix’s current store designs.

     Here’s another overview of the deli and bakery departments at this Publix store, with the Grab and Go section and the salad bar visible as well.

     While I posted a better view of the new Publix Grab & Go department a few photos back, I took this photo to show the entire length of aisle 1, which runs in front of the deli counter and ends in the produce department.

     The produce department is located in the back right corner of the store, in a little pocket between the end of the deli department and the store’s back wall.

     Here’s another look at the produce department, this photo showing the back portion of this department. I have to say, never before have I seen such a higher concentration of managers than at this store on this particular day. I had to dodge about 6-7 different managers trying to get my photos of the produce department, all of which were either stocking produce or talking to other managers back here. As I was getting my photos back here, I overheard one of the managers saying he came to this store from a Publix in Alabama to help with the grand opening, so Publix really pulls people from far and wide to make sure these grand openings go smoothly! As l_dawg2000 commented, "It's always fun to help open up a new store or restaurant location, something I got to do a few times in the past."

     Along the back wall in the produce department is this prep counter, where employees prepare all of the pre-sliced produce offerings this store has to offer.

     With produce behind me, here is a view along the back wall of this store. The meat and seafood counters lie right in front of me, with dairy visible in the distance.

     A close-up photo of the meat department, as seen from the end of one of the grocery aisles.

     Here we see the meat department again, along with the meat coolers that run along the majority of the store’s back wall. As you can tell, this place was pretty crowded when I was here. It seemed like a lot of people were interested in seeing what their new local Publix store was all about!

     Candy takes up the left side of this aisle, which is aisle 3, and international foods lines the right side. Publix has one of the best selections of international foods of any of the mainstream grocery chains here in Florida, as they carry a lot of somewhat obscure products from Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

     Salad dressings, cooking, and baking supplies could be found here in aisle 4.

     Standing in front of the meat counter, this photo looks back at much of what we’ve covered so far, including the first few grocery aisles and the meat, seafood, and produce departments.

      Jumping back up to the front of the store, here we have a look across the front end. The customer service desk was immediately to the left of where I was standing (a better photo of that will come up later in this series), with the registers and pharmacy visible in the distance.

     Here’s a look down aisle 6, home to snack crackers and juices. As you can tell in this photo, this aisle was absolute perfection. All of the merchandise was stocked in its proper spot, nothing was messed up, and for some reason customers had yet to find the time to trash this aisle! While Publix usually does a good job of keeping the aisles tidy, the fact this store was so new just made the presentation of the aisles just that much better.

     The back of the store yet again, this time from a vantage point closer to the frozen food aisles and dairy.

     Of course, since this store is right across the street from the beach in tourist-heavy Cocoa Beach, Publix dedicated half an aisle to beach toys/supplies and Cocoa Beach souvenirs. As for the other half of this aisle, aisle 8, that was home to snack foods.

     Pet food and supplies took up much of aisle 9, although a small portion of this aisle was also dedicated to paper towels.

     Frozen foods are located in the center of this new Publix store, taking up aisles 10 and 11. This photo was taken looking down aisle 10.

     This photo shows the other half of the frozen foods department, aisle 11.

     Aisle 12 was home to all of the store’s alcohol selection. Wine can be seen on the left, with the beer coolers to my right. Unlike the older Publix stores, which have open-front beer coolers, this store had coolers with doors to keep the beer in. I’d image it’s more energy efficient to have coolers with doors to keep the cold air in, which probably prompted this change in the new stores. In addition to this aisle of alcohol, Publix also added a liquor store to this location as part of the reconstruction, which we will see in the final photoset from this location.

     Cleaning supplies have their home in aisle 13.

     Baby supplies, office supplies, and cards could be found in aisle 14. You can see part of the pharmacy sticking out at the end of this aisle too.

     As we near the back left corner of the store, we find the dairy department. Dairy takes up a small portion of the back wall beyond the meat coolers, although the rest of the dairy selection could be found around the corner from here in aisle 16.

     The Publix Pharmacy is located in the front left corner of the store, as is typical for pretty much every modern Publix store. One of the new additions at this store is a drive thru pharmacy window, which is a feature Publix likes to squeeze in at these new build stores if they can.

     Here is another look at the pharmacy counter, this time as viewed from a side profile. The new Publix pharmacy and the store’s last few aisles are in the footprint of the old Eckerd/Family Dollar space, with the pharmacy drive thru where these abandoned storefronts were once located.

     In addition to a few small aisles of medicines and such in front of the pharmacy counter, the rest of the health and beauty products were located here in aisle 15.

     And as a bonus, I’ll also use this photo to tell everyone about my weird encounter with an employee at this store. When I first walked into the store, the manager was greeting everyone as well as handing out carts to people entering the store. So naturally I took the cart he gave me to use as I walked around the store. Somewhat unusual for a brand new shopping cart at a brand new store, my cart had a bad wheel that was shaky and made a bit of extra noise. I didn’t really care though, as the bad wheel wasn’t bothering me and I didn’t feel like getting a new cart, but we’ll get back to the significance of the cart in just a moment. In this photo, you can see a Publix employee stocking/straightening the shelf. That lady paid no mind to me the entire time I was in this aisle. She never said anything to me, and kept going about her business, so I didn’t think anything about her being there. I left this aisle and went down the next one (which was the last aisle), kept minding my own business, and popped up another aisle to get back to the front of the store. When I returned to the front of the store, I paused for a moment to take a picture of the front end near one of the frozen food aisles. As I was waiting for a few people to clear out to get my picture, the lady stocking the shelves in this picture came up behind me, somewhat scared me, and asked if I needed help with anything. I didn’t think she saw me taking pictures, and figured she was just passing by, doing the courteous Publix thing and asking if I needed help. I replied that I didn’t need anything, and that I was just admiring the new store and how it was so much nicer than the old one. After I said that, she just brushed off my compliment and walked away, not saying anything else. Thinking I was free and clear, I made my way back to the deli department to get a few shots I missed the first time I walked through that area. Again, as I was trying to position myself for a picture near the salad bar, my lady friend comes up alongside me, starts grabbing the few things I had in my cart, saying “This cart is bad, you need a new cart!” and throws my stuff into a new cart she brought with her. I was somewhat confused by what was going on, but I guess this lady was so interested in me because the bad wheel on my cart was driving her bonkers! I said something back to her along the lines of “Oh, it was just a shaky wheel, it wasn’t bothering me,” but again, she just seemed to ignore my comments. After she took all my things and threw them into the new cart, she took my old cart and ran off into the backroom with it, and I didn’t see her again. I stood there for a second trying to process what just happened after she left, slightly confused. I guess at Publix, everything just has to be perfect, especially on grand opening weekend! What really threw me off was how the lady just started grabbing my things and putting them into the new cart. She could have just asked me the first time she came up to me if I wanted a new cart! At least in the end though, all of the fuss wasn’t over my picture taking, so I won’t complain. That story came out much ramblier than it seemed in my mind, so sorry about that! As Retail Retell said, "If I come back tomorrow and your story has been erased, I'll know that Publix really will go to any length possible to ensure that shopping is a pleasure... and every tiny piece of evidence that suggests otherwise must be eradicated at all costs."

     The last aisle in this store is aisle 16, which is home to the remainder of the dairy department as well as prepackaged breads, peanut butter, and jelly (how convenient to have that all together!).

     Here’s another look across this store’s front end as we start to wrap things up here at the new Cocoa Beach Publix.

     The customer service desk at the Cocoa Beach Publix is of the newest style, which features that green bar and two columns, with the “customer service” sign resting atop the bar. Previously, new Publix stores had a customer service desk with a round design, like this one. As l_dawg2000 commented about the new look for the customer service counter: "Odd design for a customer service desk, and doesn't look as customer freindly as the previous desk. Guess they wanted a good place to put all those gift cards!"

     Also pictured on the side of the customer service desk are portraits of all the store’s managers, with the large photo above the managers being that of Publix’s founder, George Jenkins.

     Here’s one final look across the front end before we begin to depart the new Cocoa Beach Publix. While there was a decent crowd of people in the store, there weren’t any lines up front yet, as you can see by all the bored cashiers standing around up here.

     Another one of the new features this store received were self-checkouts, which are a very rare feature in Publix stores (at least in Florida – I think self-checkouts are more common at Publix stores outside of Florida). This was only the second time I’ve seen self-checkouts personally at a Publix, the other time being about a year ago at an older prototype Publix in Lakeland (which was probably a test location for these). Even in new build Publix stores, self-checkouts still appear to be rare, so this store is pretty unique to have these! There were two employees staffed at the self-checkout lanes, appearing to show people how to use them. I had my novelty run of using a Publix self-checkout at that Lakeland store I visited, so I decided to take my few items to one of the bored cashiers at the regular lanes instead.

     Once again we find ourselves outside of the Cocoa Beach Publix store, looking back at the store’s entry and exit way.

     Off to the left side of the new Publix store is this newly-added Publix liquor store, which occupies one of the small storefronts in the strip center. The strip center’s facade was remodeled as a part of the construction of the new Publix building, which included the removal of the covering over the front walkway and new paint and stucco. You can see what this part of the plaza looked like previously by clicking here.

     With this final overview of the exterior, I have now completed my coverage of the Cocoa Beach Publix store! I hope everyone enjoyed this photoseries of the closure and replacement of a Publix store. It was certainly an interesting experience for me, especially experiencing the old store post-closure during the fixtures auction – that was fun! Anyway, that’s all I have left to say about this store. While I do miss the old store and the charm of those older Publix buildings, this new store is very nice, and I’m sure the locals and tourists will all enjoy their experiences shopping at this new Publix store! As YonWooRetail2 said, "Beautiful store! Honestly it looks somewhat like a late 90's Albertsons! I see you picked up a shiny silver Corvette for your retail adventures :). I'd love a ride like that, but I can dream on." Ha! Wouldn't that be nice if it were true!

Anyway, that's all I have for now. Until the next post,


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