December 29, 2020 – Hartford, WI – Festival Foods is coming to Hartford. The story broke Monday night on WashingtonCountyInsider.com
“We’re hoping to start construction in 2021 with an opening in 2022,” said Brian Stenzel senior director of community with Festival Foods.
The company is family and employee-owned and operates 31 full-service, state-of-the art supermarkets in Wisconsin. On December 18, 2020 it closed on the purchase of Hartford Plaza.
The location, 1201 Bell Avenue, and 1275 Bell Avenue, had been vacant more than four years following the departure of Sentry Foods to the west and Kmart to the east.
“We looked through numerous opportunities that come across our desk and we just saw the community as one that we could serve well with our store,” Stenzel said.
The grocery is expected to bring about 200 new jobs to the community both full and part time.
While Festival Foods plans to open in the old Kmart section of the strip mall, Stenzel said they are keeping their options open on the west side of the property. “We have no plans at this time,” he said. “We will look at opportunities for that space on down the road.”
This will be the first new grocery for the City of Hartford since Aldi opened in mid-December 2013 and Walmart opened in May 2007. Questioned whether the company is nervous about the current uncertainty in the economy Stenzel said building new store is always a gamble.
“We believe it is a good, calculated risk just because of what we have to offer,” he said. “We have great customer service and our model of serving the community with a clean, inviting grocery store is something we take great pride in.”
Although the strip-mall property has been on the market a while and is a bit set back from Highway 60 it does sit near, what some say, is a diamond corner with McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Kwik Trip.
“We always look for areas that have a lot of rooftops to be convenient for people to shop or a busy hub where people can get a lot of things done outside of grocery shopping as well,” Stenzel said.
While the news about a Hartford opening is settling in there was some rumbling about a Festival Foods opening to the south in Menomonee Falls. Stenzel said “there is nothing confirmed there.”
The City of Hartford is unique in that its liquor ordinance prevents any grocery or convenience store from selling alcohol. The ordinance was passed to protect the mom-and-pop liquor stores in the community.
Currently Hartford has four liquor stores including Hartford Wine and Spirits on Sumner Street, B&S Liquor on S. Grand Avenue, Hilldale Liquor on E. Sumner Street, and Stop-N-Go Convenience Center. The other stores grandfathered in include Goehman’s Rapid Mart, and Hartford Co-op.
Stenzel said the alcohol ordinance did not impact their decision. “It is something we will certainly work with the City and certainly obey any ordinance that is in place,” he said. “It is nothing that swayed our decision one way or the other.”