Hy-Vee will close its supermarket in downtown Des Moines so it can be converted into a version of the chain’s HealthMarket concept and into a Chinese and sushi restaurant with seating.
Spokeswoman Christina Gayman said Tuesday that the closure and remodeling of the store on Court Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets will be “in the near future,” although the company has not announced when the changes will be made. She said the store’s employees would keep their jobs.
The company will transform the food court area of the store into its first standalone Hy-Vee HyChi, a seated restaurant where diners can order items such as General Tso’s chicken and nori sushi. The current grocery shelves, liquor department, and deli are becoming a health market selling vitamins, dietary supplements, organic products, meat, and other groceries.
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Gayman said no decision has been made about the store’s Wahlburgers restaurant, which faces Court Avenue and has its own entrance.
Gayman said the redesign will actually give buyers more options than they can currently get in the 4 1/2 year old store that Hy-Vee refers to as its fourth + court location.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way companies work, resulting in more employees than ever working from home, we want to make sure we keep evolving to meet the needs of those who remain in the Live and work downtown, ”she said in a statement.
Downtown redevelopment comes as Hy-Vee converts its West Des Moines HealthMarket, the only standalone location for the concept, into a wine and liquor store the company calls Wall To Wall. However, some larger Hy-Vees have HealthMarket sections.
The company also opened a grocery store this week in Grimes, the third largest in Iowa, with a different layout and appearance than other Hy-Vee stores. It has numerous non-food offerings, including exercise equipment, DSW shoes, and a W. Nail bar, as well as an array of new technologies including a salad machine and electronic price tags.
The Fourth + Court Hy-Vee was a boon to downtown residents who had no other grocer within walking distance after several smaller stores failed. When the store opened in February 2017, around 300 customers stood in line before the doors were opened.
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The store has always been a bit of a runaway for Hy-Vee. At 36,000 square feet, it’s much smaller than most of the suburban and country stores of the West Des Moines-based grocery store.
The location has an extensive food court with small Mexican, Italian, sushi and hibachi stations as well as a Starbucks and a salad bar. The Hy-Vee Market Grill restaurant was converted into a Wahlburgers last year.
At the time the store opened, Randy Edeker, CEO of Hy-Vee said the store’s design was partly inspired by the fact that people had started to consume more groceries outside of their homes than in their kitchens and dining rooms. That trend reversed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic last spring.