After four long years and millions of dollars, the new Loblaws inside Maple Leaf Gardens has finally opened with some major fanfare. People lined up as early as 6 AM to have their photo taken with Loblaws wonder boy, Galen Weston and to score one of the free gift cards being given away. We even spotted a dozen die-hard Leaf fans wandering around in their jerseys before heading upstairs to the LCBO. Lots of foodies and neighbourhood locals popped in to have a look around and media were invited to take a private tour.
The Make-your-own salad bar/stir-fry and fruit salad station was definitely one of my favourite things at this store. Especially because of the way it was beautifully displayed.
The old centre ice is marked with an orange circle and located somewhere between the tuna and sweet & sour sauce. We couldn't resist grabbing a can of tuna and dropping the 'puck'.
Old arena chairs from the Gardens have been created into a single blue maple leaf and hung above the entrance (left). Each of the supporting beams have a picture of someone who has performed at the gardens with the date (right).
The 18 foot wall of cheese is home to over 400 varieties including a 100 pound wheel of Stilton.
The deli also cures some of its own meat. The traditional deli case has also been replaced with a glass cube in this modern grocery superstore.
Ace Bakery bread is baked fresh everyday right at the store with a full and impressive selection
Open prep kitchen above the bakery means many of the prepared foods sold are made in-house. This location also has its own executive chef overseeing what leaves his kitchen. I even spotted him testing the soup at the soup bar making sure it was still fresh, while chatting with customers and answering questions.
A 12 foot wall of cupcakes in various sizes and flavours are made by La Rocca Bakery. I'll have to remember this next time I commit to bringing a dessert. The cupcake shop is part of the full patisserie in the store.
The Tea Emporium has a little counter inside selling loose leaf teas to take home or one to drink while you shop. A coffee and espresso bar is also located by the cash registers and exit.
On the left is a self-serve salad bar and soup station with stylish food court seating nearby
A sushi bar with an eat-in area by T&T Supermarket, a sister grocery store to Loblaws. Though most of the staff members throughout the store was new and still learning, everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. Opening day was fully staffed with lots of giveaways, 20% off the Joe Fresh store upstairs and even a live jazz trio performing on the mezzanine level as people arrived.
Natural and organic foods has a large section on one side of the store near a wall of vitamins. A registered dietitian is on-site to answer any questions, along with a pharmacy and walk-in health clinic staffed with eleven doctors.
Lots of wide and stylish checkout lanes were available. Loblaws has also put in two grocery cart sizes here in matching red and orange. One is a small market shopper, about half the size of regular cart and the second is standard size, which can ride down the escalator with you into the parking lot.
No fiddling around in self checkout trying to weigh and locate rutabagas here! This location is anticipated to be a busy one for small and quick purchases, so they've put in over six dedicated express lanes for those looking to get in and out. We recommend giving yourself lots of time to walk on through this food wonderland. Free parking is available at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens with a purchase of $18.00 or more, spaces are limited. For more information visit: http://loblaws.ca/60carlton