By ALAN SHACKLETON
Fresh food retailer Farm Boy is coming to Leslieville.
Based out of eastern Ontario, Farm Boy has been expanding its number of stores across the province recently, and the Leslieville store, to be located on the south side of Lake Shore Boulevard East just west of Leslie Street, will be the company’s 28th store across Ontario and its second one in Toronto.
The 20,038-square-foot store opens its doors to shoppers on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 8 a.m. Community members are invited to a Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the store, 1005 Lake Shore Blvd. E.
The family-friendly grand opening will feature face-painting for kids, a visit from a princess and from Farm Boy’s mascot Lulu the Cow. The celebration will also highlight the products of four local vendors who will be working with the store.
Activities will be ongoing over the four hours, said Rachel Paré, Community and Events Manager for Farm Boy.
“People will have the same experience throughout the day, whatever time they come between 10 and 2,” she said. “It’s going to be great fun.”
Farm Boy began in 1981 as a produce stand in Cornwall, and then expanded in the eastern part of Ontario – primarily in Ottawa, where it has 12 stores. Over the past few years, Farm Boy has started opening stores in other parts of Ontario including Kingston, Pickering, Cambridge, Hamilton and London. Farm Boy’s only other Toronto store is located on Browns Line in Etobicoke.
Farm Boy Advertising Manager Jim Empey said the Lake Shore and Leslie location is an ideal spot for the store.
“It’s a great location, close to Leslieville, the Beach and downtown Toronto,” he said. “We believe we are going to be very popular in that area.”
Empey said that store site selection is handled by Farm Boy Co-CEO Jeff York, and he loved the Leslie and Lake Shore location given the amount of available space to build the store and its proximity to a large and discerning customer base that wants fresh, high-quality products.
“We focus on the freshest possible produce, and that has carried the company through,” he said. “Our quality standards are extremely high.”
To that end, unlike some stores where the house labels are considered bargain brands, at Farm Boy Empey said the private-label products are a “cut above when it comes to both value and quality.”
Working with local producers and vendors is a priority for Farm Boy, he said. “We love local and we really work with our Ontario farmers in season, and also for greenhouse growing.”
A couple of things that really set Farm Boy apart from other large stores is that they sell only food, and they have dedicated a good portion of the store to serving ready-made meals and food items.
“We are food focused,” said Empey.
One area of the store that’s likely to prove very popular with both local shoppers, and those who work in the Lake Shore and Leslie area, is the large ready-made meals section of the store.
It will have a 36-foot salad and hot bar in the store at which customers can pick up food to take out to eat in the comfortably-designed and WI-FI-enabled restaurant area.
There are 60 items at the salad bar alone and a minimum of 20 items at the hot table, said Empey.
“There’s lots of vegan items, stir fries made to order. Folks can have flatbreads heated up, and pre-made meals as well.”
Some of most popular pre-made meals at other stores have proven to be butter chicken, macaroni and cheese and General Tao chicken, but the offerings vary from soups to sushi to numerous sweet treats – all of them made from scratch in the Farm Boy Kitchen.
For more information on the Lake Shore Boulevard East Farm Boy, please visit www.farmboy.ca/leslieandlakeshore