Fresh City Farms Grocery Concept Opens 2nd Store Amid Pandemic [Photos]

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Despite the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Toronto-based Fresh City, a leading provider of organic, sustainable, and seasonal fresh food, has expanded.

The company has opened a new store — its second Fresh City store — at the corner of Bay Street and Gerrard Street to serve the grocery needs of thousands of front-line workers at nearby hospitals. The store, which is located at the base of The Livmore residential rental building, has scaled back its offering in light of risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, it said.

“Our purpose is to create a better life through food. At this unprecedented time, we want to make it easier for hospital workers and nearby residents to have safe access to food. This location is steps away from five iconic research hospitals and opening now is one way that we can thank the hospital staff for everything they are doing,” said Ran Goel, the company’s founder and CEO, who added that all hospital workers are being offered a 10 per cent discount on grab & go fresh prepared items and single beverages.

“It is the least we can do. They are the ones who are putting themselves at risk and working overtime during this crisis. They are our health care heroes.”

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Fresh City was founded in 2011 as a city farm and retailer of farm-fresh, organic produce, and prepared food. Each day it makes locally and organically sourced meal kits and chef-inspired meals, salads, snacks, and breakfasts from scratch. The company’s first location is at Ossington Avenue.

In late 2018 Fresh City acquired Mabel’s Bakery, a popular bakery in Toronto, producing artisan breads and pastries. There are four locations.

In early 2019, it acquired The Healthy Butcher, a pioneer in organic and 100 percent grass-fed beef. There are two locations.

Fresh City runs Canada’s largest commercial city farm in Downsview Park, and also farms at Baka on Highway 427. Fresh City delivers straight to customers’ doors or to pick-up locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

The open concept store was designed by Rochelle Moncarz of Snyder Architects and features a modern look with clean lines. Underground parking is available on site.

Jenn Hay, Chief Marketing Officer, said the new 5,500-square-foot Fresh City location in central downtown Toronto is about double the size of its first store.

“Construction was underway for quite some time and we had hoped to open long before we actually did. But as you can appreciate with permits and such things it took longer than we hoped,” said Hay. “As to why we chose this location, Fresh City does home deliveries. So we deliver seven days a week throughout the Greater Toronto Area to people’s homes. In fact in 2018 we opened our retail locations to try to complement that business. We know that people like to receive groceries delivered right to their homes but they also like the experience of shopping or just popping in to get a thing or two in the middle of the week.

“And our stores are located in your neighbourhood. So people can count on us for great product and convenience. We’ll bring it to your home or we’re right around the area where you work or where you live, making it easier for you to pick up either a full grocery shop or just that one or two items you need to make dinner tonight or even come in and pick up your dinner. We’ve got lots of ready to eat or ready to heat options. Or you can come in and pick up your lunch. It’s really all about convenience.”

Hay said there’s a huge need for food in Toronto, and Fresh City being an essential service, it wanted to make sure that people who live near the new location have an option that is close to them.

Fresh City is also helping support FoodShare Toronto. To help support FoodShare’s emergency food access work, Fresh City has added quick donation options to their online market. Customers can simply add a donation to their cart and Fresh City will take care of the rest. Donations can be added as a one-time contribution or added to every order.

“We heard from many of our customers that they were looking for ways to help,” said Goel. “Every dollar donated through our market will go straight to FoodShare’s COVID-19 relief projects. Our goal is to raise $25,000 by the end of June.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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