The site of a long-closed cafeteria will get new life while Mount Airy gains a discount grocery store operated by the Aldi chain based in Germany, under plans revealed Thursday.
Since its closure about eight years ago, the Gaunce’s Cafeteria building has sat empty on a two-acre space off U.S. 601 behind KFC, near the Surry County Human Services Center. That’s been the case even though the property occupies a prime location along a major commercial corridor in town.
This will be changing in the coming months with a different kind of supermarket headed there, as indicated by recent disclosures that were confirmed by an official of the city planning department. It coordinates development activities in Mount Airy in accordance with municipal codes and policies.
The re-use of the former cafeteria site by Aldi has included the involvement of a technical review committee of the city, according to Planning Director Andy Goodall.
Committee members have approved plans for demolishing the old cafeteria building and constructing a new Aldi grocery store with upgraded site improvements on that property, Goodall added.
Aldi, which is short for Albrecht Discount, is a supermarket chain founded by two German brothers in 1946 which now operates more than 10,000 stores in 18 countries.
It has a low-price, no-frills reputation for offering knockoffs of popular brands such as Heineken beer and breakfast items from General Mills and Kellogg’s, which have drawn bargain hunters also seeking frozen foods, paper products and others. Aldi has claimed that shoppers can save up to 50 percent on their grocery bills.
The store planned for Mount Airy is to have roughly 22,000 square feet.
“I think this will be a welcome addition to the community and a great way to use a property that hasn’t seen any activity since 2009,” Goodall commented Thursday. Originally, The Derby Cafeteria operated there, which was associated with The Derby Restaurant in Bannertown.
The city planning staff anticipates that the demolition of the existing building will occur some time this fall and construction of the grocery store is to be completed by the end of next summer.
Goodall referred further questions to Todd Bonnett, Aldi’s director of real estate for its Charlotte office, who could not be reached Friday for comment, including why Mount Airy was picked for the store and how many people it will employ.
Aldi is presently in an expansion mode in the United States, according to company information, which includes plans for increasing its total number of stores in this country to 2,000 by next year.
This included Aldi making its debut in California in 2016 and recently announcing plans for other stores to bring the total in that state to 41. The chain also has had a growing presence in North Carolina in recent years.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.