COOK- The new Zup’s Market will open its doors to eager customers on Wednesday, May 20, a year and a half after a fire devastated the former grocery store.Workers were rushing around Monday to …
COOK- The new Zup’s Market will open its doors to eager customers on Wednesday, May 20, a year and a half after a fire devastated the former grocery store.
Workers were rushing around Monday to complete final construction items, and one person in particular had some extra family incentive to make sure his portion of the job was done just right.
John Gerzin, of SCR, a St. Cloud commercial refrigeration company, was busy calibrating the building’s cooling system, and while his last name might not be familiar to many in the Cook area, his grandfather’s certainly is.
“My grandfather is Leonard Zupancich,” Gerzin said. “He and his brothers built a lot of the stores back in the day.”
And while Gerzin is proud of his grandfather’s business accomplishments, he also takes pride in another connection to him.
“My grandfather went to school for refrigeration right after WWII,” he said. “That’s kind of cool.”
Store manager Matt Zupancich was scooting back and forth between the new store and the mini mart he’s operated for the past several months. That store will close Friday so dry goods can be moved to the new facility. Other items will be distributed to customers and employees, he said.
“That way we’re starting fresh here,” he said.
Zupancich appeared both excited and relieved with the impending opening of the store.
“We’re ready,” he said. “It’s a lot to do in the next eight days. But we’ve got the right people in place, so I’m pretty confident.”
The encouragement and interest he’s received from customers has been nearly overwhelming.
“It never stops – that’s why I don’t go anywhere in public,” he laughed.
An essential element to the store’s success will be his employees, a mix of old and new, Zupancich said.
“We’ve got a good strong crew, and we’ve got a majority of our people back,” he said. “I wouldn’t have any hair if I didn’t have them. We’re missing a few key people, but we’re going to be alright.”
The store’s larger footprint will allow for more variety throughout, but Zupancich emphasized the “fresh departments” will be what makes the store stand out.
“Our meat department is why people come – that’s our backbone, and it has been for over 100 years,” he said. “We prioritize the important things. To me it’s the deli, it’s the meat department, it’s the produce. That’s where we’ll be really strong.”
Opening in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Zupancich said health and safety are uppermost in his mind.
“We’re going to have to operate differently than before,” he said.
Like other Zup’s locations, the store will provide curbside delivery, and Zupancich is planning an extra twist.
“Some of the resorts have contacted us about delivering out there, and we’re going to do that twice a week,” he said.
Those steps will be complemented by frequent cleaning and disinfection routines throughout the store.
“We’re going to keep our customers and co-workers safe,” Zupancich said. “We have to. If we’re going to be open for business we’ve got to be smart and safe.”
Plans for a grand opening are on hold for the time being, said Zupancich. Right now, it will be enough to get the doors open for customers who’ve been coping with lack of a full-service grocery and the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s just a strange feeling to be getting to the point we want to celebrate after the last year and a half, but you feel guilty about it almost, with everything else going on. We’ll come back to that one (grand opening) later in the summer. There will be plenty of opportunity for the community to get in here and visit us.”