Greg's Market to open after 4-year hiatus
MIDDLEBURY — Greg’s Meat Market — the once-popular, independently owned grocery store located at 3 Elm St. — will reopen under new ownership on either Tuesday, July 23, or Wednesday, July 24, after having been closed for more than four years.
“We’re going to do it the way (original owner Greg Wry) did it, and hope it works,” said local businessman Tony Neri, who acquired the Greg’s/Pool World property from TD Bank during the fall of 2017. The store had closed in April of 2015 when its previous owner, Bart Litvin, filed for bankruptcy protection after having purchased the property six years prior from Wry.
Neri has invested plenty in his effort to return Greg’s to its heyday, when its aisles were full of customers picking through fresh produce, custom-butchered meats, an expansive deli selection and a vast array of other products that store employees would take out to your car and deliver to shut-ins.
A Thursday, July 18 tour of the 7,700-square-foot store showed just how far it had come from hibernation. The space had been left in deplorable condition, according to witnesses, who spoke of clunky coolers filled with rotting food. The store has now been outfitted with new coolers, utilities, LED lighting, shelving, flooring and other amenities that will surely please shoppers.
Aisle shelves are a little shorter than what past customers will remember, giving the store a more spacious feel.
“I didn’t think it was possible,” Gail Daha, the new Greg’s general manager, said of the store’s transformation. “A lot has been replaced, refurbished and redone.”
Workers were still readying the space on Thursday. Among them were several future employees of the new Greg’s, including Jim Blais, who will lead the butcher shop; Jamie Beayon and Willie Cousineau, who will direct the deli section; Stacey Babcock, who will head the cash-out; produce manager Janice Rule; and Scott Cousino, who will oversee day-to-day operations.
“Everyone here has been wearing more than a few hats,” Daha said with a smile.
The store will, for the next few weeks, be a “work in progress” as new management works out the kinks. Daha and Neri are thrilled that Wry is helping resurrect the store as a paid consultant.
“He’s been invaluable to us,” Daha said of Wry.
Daha is an experienced business manager. She’s worked for Neri for the past decade, managing his A&W Restaurant on Route 7 south. She also helped lead Neri’s Dog Team Catering venture.
Daha was previously general manager at Otter Creek Brewing.
She’ll divide her time between Greg’s and the A&W until the end of September, when the latter will close for the winter.
While she had never before been a Greg’s employee, Daha believes she knows a lot about the way the store should be run. She was a faithful Greg’s customer, shopping there multiple times each week during the Wry era.
Greg’s will have around 30 employees, half of them full-timers, according to Daha. Some of those posts remain unfilled. Anyone interested in working at the store should stop by Greg’s and talk to Cousino, according to Daha.
Neri and Daha want shoppers to feel like they’ve rediscovered “an old friend” when they walk through those familiar sliding doors this week. They’ll again find daily lunch “specials,” featuring sandwiches, chips and drink. The meat “value packs” will return. Clerks will deliver grocery bags to cars in a more spacious parking lot. Home delivery service will come in the future, according to Daha.
At the same time, management hopes to improve the tried-and-true Greg’s formula. New features, according to Daha, will include:
• A hot and cold sandwich choice each day.
• More hot foods, such as casseroles, prepared in-house.
• Fresh breakfast sandwiches.
• Pre-packaged, homemade salads folks can grab on the go.
Store hours will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
“I really feel positive,” Daha said of the store’s future. “We’re trying to do it right.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].