The Edmonton-based Italian Centre Shop is expanding to its fifth location in Alberta with plans for its biggest store yet in Sherwood Park just outside of Edmonton.
The iconic grocery, deli, and bakery store will open a 22,500-square-foot location in the Emerald Hills Urban Village, as the anchor tenant, with a licensed 50-seat cafe, 30-seat patio, and all the signature deli, bakery, and grocery offerings the brand has come to be known for since it was established in 1959 by Frank Spinelli. The new store will open in the fall of 2021.
“My father Frank started importing newspapers and coffee beans in the heart of Edmonton’s Little Italy to Italians 60 years ago,” said Teresa Spinelli, owner and president of the Italian Centre Shop. “We’re proud to keep his legacy alive and expand our footprint in central Alberta to such a culturally-diverse, family-oriented, and rapidly growing area.
“I’m asked every day by loyal customers who live in Sherwood Park when we’ll open a location in the east. It’s humbling to know that after this long, Albertans keep supporting our family business and want to be part of our growth. We’ve finally found a space to accommodate our needs operationally, but it meant a lot to our organization to open in an area with food lovers of all ages, busy families and a community known for supporting local businesses. We are very blessed.”
Sherwood Park was an appealing place to open a new location, said Spinelli, because of its family orientation and its mandate to be one of the most liveable communities in Canada.
“Their values are very family-focused like ours are, so we just thought it was a good fit,” said Spinelli.
When searching for new sites to open stores, she said the company looks for family-friendly neighbourhoods and the density of those neighbourhoods.
The Italian Centre Shop currently operates three locations in Edmonton and one in Calgary.
Spinelli said the Italian Centre Shop plans to open a second location in Calgary around the same time as the Sherwood Park location.
“We haven’t officially signed off on Calgary but we’re very, very close. Our store is currently in southeast Calgary. This will be in southwest Calgary. We think Calgary could do a third store. If Edmonton could do three, we think Calgary could do three. The Calgary store right now is doing really great. So we’re really excited about that possibility,” said Spinelli.
“And I really want to go to Saskatoon. I don’t know why but I just feel that’s the right move and then we’ll see. I think we’re okay for Edmonton although we are looking at another possibility in a new area of Edmonton. We’ll look at the numbers and see if it works.”
Spinelli said the company’s success is due to the fact that the stores are a gathering place for people and staff are really connected to the customers.
When asked what she thinks her father would think of about where the company is today after such humble beginnings more than 60 years ago, Spinelli replied:
“I think he would be really proud of it. My father really was about community and about gathering places. If he had more time, I’m sure he would have wanted to grow. So I’m sure he’s smiling from above,” she said.
Emerald Hills Urban Village, located in the northeast corner of Sherwood Park, is adjacent to the Strathcona Community Hospital. Neighbouring businesses to the Italian Centre Shop will include a unique, mixed-use commercial centre with financial services, quick service restaurants, a three-storey office/medical building and a 200-unit residential building. With a projected population of just under 90,000 by 2024 within a seven-kilometre radius, Spinelli expects to also service surrounding communities including southeast Edmonton, Ardrossan, Fort Saskatchewan, and South Cooking Lake.
“From opening its first location in Edmonton’s Little Italy, to the announcement of this new store, the Spinelli name has been synonymous with the tastes and traditions of Europe, all under one roof,“ said Cameron Naqvi, President of Cameron Developement Corporation, one of the developers of the village. “As a family business as well, we feel extremely fortunate to work with the Italian Centre Shop, and are pleased it has chosen Emerald Hills to further share its established brand with a new generation of shoppers.”
The Italian Centre Shop said the Sherwood Park location will deliver the consumer experience that long-time shoppers will have grown accustomed to with Spinelli Bar Italia exclusively serving KIMBO brand espresso, an extensive bread and pastry program and Western Canada’s largest deli featuring over 500 cured meats, cheeses, olives and antipasti. There will also be 140 parking stalls.
The Italian Centre Shop also provides wholesale distribution to over 800 restaurants across Alberta.
Teresa Spinelli took over the family business when her father Frank died of cancer in 2000.