COSTA MESA — A line of about 50 customers waited Wednesday for the grand opening of the first Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in Costa Mesa.
The crowd streamed in when the supermarket's doors opened a little past 10 a.m.
The new store, whose sales space occupies about 10,000 square feet at Newport and Harbor boulevards, will feature the same low prices and community-centric service the brand is known for, said store Manager Mark Spencer.
"I can guarantee the best customer service in town," said Spencer, who has more than 25 years experience working in grocery stores, adding that he was very proud of the new team.
Most of the store's 25 employees are new hires who live nearby, he said.
At the opening, Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan commended Fresh & Easy for bringing in new jobs and pumping up the local economy.
At the event's conclusion, Fresh & Easy officials donated a check for $1,000 to a local nonprofit, Project Cuddle, which works to end infant abandonment.
The grocer will also feature Fresh & Easy's gourmet brand, a line of frozen restaurant-quality packaged meals, which debuted at chain stores this week, said Fresh & Easy company spokesman Brandon Wonnacott.
Fresh & Easy stores are about 10,000 to 12,000 square feet in sales floor space, Wonnacott said.
The size is relatively small for other supermarkets, but enables the chain to move into locations not so easily accessed by some of its competition, he said.
The new store became the supermarket chain's 159th branch to sprout up in California, Nevada and Arizona since 2007, company officials said.
Fresh & Easy's 160th store opened in Lake Forest on Wednesday, Wonnacott said.
With five more Southern California locations opening in the next several weeks, the El Segundo-based company, which is owned by parent company Tesco, the British supermarket giant, will soon also be expanding into Northern California, he said.