‘Finally!’ New Publix supermarket opens in downtown Smyrna

photo by Haisten Willis

A grand opening ceremony early Thursday morning marked the end of a nearly decade-long process for Publix Super Markets and the City of Smyrna.

With thermometers reading 31 degrees outside, officials from the city and the company held an indoor ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new 46,500-square-foot store, located at 2995 Atlanta Road in the Jonquil Plaza development at the corner of Atlanta and Spring roads.

“Finally!,” Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon said during a speech to the gathered customers.  State representative Stacey Evans (HD-42) and Smyrna city councilmembers Teri Anulewicz, Susan Wilkinson, and Derek Norton, were also on hand.

Publix had been eyeing the location for a new store since 2008, according to the company’s Atlanta-area community relations manager Brenda Reid.

“Because of the economy, we weren’t able to move forward [in 2008],” Reid said. “We are a tenant here, we don’t own the property, and the developer pulled out back then. They came back to us, and once you start construction it takes about 10 months to build out. But yea, it’s been a long time coming.”

The earlier plans for a Publix location were part of a wider project that also fell apart in the wake of the Great Recession. Now, eight years later, Publix will serve as the anchor of a scaled-down mixed-use development which will include smaller retail stores and restaurants, including a Willy’s Mexicana Grill, and a 266-unit apartment complex known as Alta at Jonquil. The rest of Jonquil Plaza remains under construction.

The store was swamped with employees ready to greet customers during the 7 a.m. grand opening. Free samples ranged from French toast to Danish pecan rings and sausage, plus coupons and pharmacy bags containing another range of samples. Store manager Joe Yarillo handed out roses to patrons entering the door. The only fare that went largely ignored was a table of coffee and orange juice set up in the cold outside the entrance.

The store includes a pharmacy and employs roughly 110 associates.

The grand opening of the Jonquil Plaza Publix also marked the end of the road for another of the chain’s locations. The Publix at Cobb Center on South Cobb Drive is now closed as a result of the new store’s opening.

“It was underperforming and had been underperforming for some time,” Reid said. “This is a new location and a great location. We think that Atlanta Road is very high-traffic area. We’re on the right side of the street. We are just looking forward to becoming entrenched into the community.”

Publix is hoping to draw more sales at the new location which, according to developer Halpern Enterprises, sees 46,000 vehicles per day. Halpern also developed the recently opened Shops at Belmont development located at the intersection of Atlanta Road and Windy Hill Road.

There are 25 Publix locations in Cobb County, including three serving the Smyrna area. The Lakeland, Florida-based company is privately owned by its 189,000 employees, and operates 1,135 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.