Key West's North Roosevelt Boulevard will once again be home to three large supermarkets on Thursday, when Publix opens a second, larger store in the former Albertsons building in Key Plaza shopping center.
After months of speculation and rumors, company representatives confirmed this week that Key West will be home to two Publix supermarkets within a mile of each other. There are no plans to close the existing Publix in Searstown shopping center, and the new store will be a traditional Publix with expanded offerings, said spokeswoman Maria Brous, dispelling local rumors that the former Albertsons could become a Greenwise Market, an organic subsidiary of Publix.
Both stores will operate under the Publix name, Brous said, adding that the new, larger store will feature an expanded selection of health, natural and organic food products.
It also is to offer more Hispanic food products and locally caught seafood, including Key West pink shrimp and a variety of locally caught fish.
The company is working toward more localized sourcing for products such as seafood, Brous said, and the new Key West location will be an example of that.
The soup and salad bar -- a popular feature of the former Albertsons -- will return to the new Publix with more daily soup options, Brous said.
Kevin Piper, longtime store manager at the current Publix, has been named manager of the new location, and Kim Seitz was promoted to replace Piper in the Searstown location.
Brous said the close proximity of the two stores is not entirely uncommon, and the situation is similar in Miami Beach, where two stores are just a stone's throw from each other.
"It's really based on the community -- the traffic that goes through and what it can support," she said.
The new store will open at 7 a.m. Thursday. Both Publix locations will operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday until 10 p.m., leaving Winn-Dixie as the only 24-hour supermarket in Key West.