by Larry Austin
Grand Island Tops Friendly Market celebrated the completion of a $1.4 million renovation project on May 21.
The company held a grand re-opening and ribbon-cutting for its remodeling work that started in early March and was completed on May 19, according to Tops. The store is located at 2140 Grand Island Blvd., in the heart of the Island.
Tops President and CEO Frank Curci said the $1.4 million expenditure is part of a corporate-wide campaign.
"The store absolutely was nice before this," said Curci. "We really feel like we have to keep the offering fresh for customers, so we seek to remodel our stores every seven or eight years."
"We really feel that customers like a fresh shopping environment, so we have to always keep it up to date. Things change in our industry, and we want to incorporate all those changes into this offering," Curci added, noting that the new look inside GI's Tops is a first for the company.
"We're really proud of this look and feel. This is the first time we've done this in a store, this particular look. We're really excited. This is something we're going to carry forward to a lot of our other stores," Curci said.
Store Manager Patty Bianco, who along with her family members, have worked for Tops back when it was located on Love Road, said the GI Tops will feature an expanded health and natural food section, a new in-house dry cleaner, and an enhanced and expanded café.
"We have a lot more variety in all of our perishable departments. We have a brand-new, state-of-the-art beer section," Bianco added.
Other changes include new décor throughout the entire store with upgrades to produce, meat and seafood, bakery, and dairy departments. The undertaking was done "for the community," Bianco said.
"The community deserves a nice Tops to come to, a friendly Tops that has a warm feeling when you walk in the door, with more variety so they don't need to shop anywhere else. They can stay right here," Bianco said.
Bianco said the turnout by the community, corporate executives and government leadership at the ribbon-cutting and grand re-opening demonstrated that "We're all one, we're all one happy family."
"It's very gratifying," Curci said of the support at the ribbon-cutting. "This store has always been an important part of the community, and it's nice to see everybody come out."
Bianco presented donations to five local organizations at the event: the 1 Island coalition, the Grand Island Lions Club, the Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island, Reality Café, and the Grand Island Fire Co. Andy Brocato of Tops said the donations are part of the business' corporate culture.
"Very simply, it's part of our 'Living Here, Giving Here' motto," Brocato said. "We've got a long history of giving back to the community, for 51 years. With this grand opening, we worked with Patty to identify the five organizations and went above and beyond what we normally do in the community here to make an extra-special donation as part of our celebration of the grand opening."
Likewise, Grand Island Parks and Recreation Director Linda Tufillaro presented Bianco with an award to recognize GI Tops and its support for community events.
"You wouldn't believe the amount that they have contributed to the Parks and Recreation Department," Tufillaro said in presenting Bianco with a plaque that she hoped would be the "first decoration in the newly remodeled Grand Island Tops."
Come spring, summer, winter, or fall, on long notice or at the last minute, "Patty has always come through for me," Tufillaro explained.