published on April 7, 2016 - 8:00 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
Fresno’s newest specialty supermarket will debut during an elaborate grand opening ceremony tomorrow morning featuring lion dancers, firecrackers and speeches from city officials.

The store is the 16th facility for Southern California-based Shun Fat (SF) Supermarket, and marks the company’s first Valley site. Huy Trieu, general manager at the store, said the Chinese Vietnamese American chain chose to come to Fresno after being approached about a former FoodMaxx space at 4970 E. Kings Canyon in the southeast part of town. 

“It’s timely for SF to come to Fresno,” he said. “Fresno is a very big city, but you don’t realize because you think it’s all farm towns. We realized that we were expanding north and in the Bay Area, but we forgot about Fresno and how big a population there is here.”

Since moving to town, the company has created 100 full- and part-time jobs, many of which were filled by local residents and members of the surrounding neighborhood, Trieu said.

The company began working to update the 56,000-square-foot space last fall and has added a pair of lion statues out front for good luck. The statues are a tradition at all SF Supermarkets and help to set the market apart from other neighborhood stores, Trieu said. 

Inside, customers can expect to find a variety of imported fruits and vegetables not commonly found in local stores, as well as specialty items specific to Asian and Latin American cuisine. 

Former Fresno City councilman Blong Xiong said the chain is a good fit for the community since Fresno has one of the fastest growing Southeast Asian populations. The market will be the largest Asian supermarket in the area, and opens the door for future partnership within the community, he said. 

Already he has been working closely with the SF team to raise awareness within the community and said he eventually hopes to start a program pairing local Hmong and Southeast Asian farmers with the store. 

“This will be the biggest Asian superstore in our area so my hope is for the retailer to partner with our local farmers,” he said. “We’re the fruit basket of the world and it’d be nice to see us put that to good use.”

SF Supermarket will also feature an onsite butcher trained in different specialty and ethnic cuts, a feature expected to be popular with families cooking traditional dishes.

A large fish counter also seeks to set the market apart and includes a dozen large tanks where customers can buy fresh lobster, crab and crawfish. A variety of fish will also be available, and the department has a fry station where customers can have their selection fried up while they shop. 

“This is something that you might expect to see in San Francisco or San Diego, but we haven’t seen fresh tanks in Fresno like this before,” Xiong said. “We think the community will like that a lot, so this is something that we’re looking forward to.”

In addition to the fresh food selections, shoppers can also expect to find hundreds of noodles and food brands from around the world, Trieu said. 

“I want this [store] to be a bridge for people. Now, this is the place where they can come once and find it all,” he said. 

Xiong agreed and said the store is the first in the area to carry a lot of Asian brands, including the popular brews Beerlao and Singha, beer imports from Laos and Thailand respectively. 

“You see this more at the restaurants in town but customers like me who want to pick up some to enjoy at home can’t find it in the store,” he said. “They’re both very popular and it will be nice having them available locally.”

The official grand opening ceremony will start at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, with doors opening at 10:30 a.m. Festivities will continue throughout the weekend and Trieu said the store will offer cuts of fresh fruit and barbecue on Friday. 

“We’re roasting a whole pig, so we want everyone to come out and see what we have to offer,” he said. “[SF Supermarket] is not just for any one community, but for everyone.”

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