Feb. 22, 2006 - Bashas' Supermarkets is expanding its presence in the Northwest and Foothills, as evidenced by the construction of a Catalina supermarket set to open in April.

The Golder Ranch Plaza on the northeast corner of Oracle Road and Golder Ranch Drive in Catalina will be home to a 54,022-square-foot Bashas' Supermarket.

Richard Rodriguez, store director of Bashas' Oro Valley, 13005 N. Oracle Road, will move to the still under-construction supermarket.

The grocery store is behind schedule in construction. According to Bashas' Web site, the store was slated to open in mid-February, but will more than likely open in early April.

When the day to open arrives, customers will be greeted with a large store equipped with the Bashas' quality, Rodriguez said.

"It's the best in the industry," he said.

Over the last few years, Bashas' Supermarkets have been going up all over the Northwest and Foothills. "We're growing like crazy," Rodriguez said.

In October Bashas' opened a store at 2000 W. River Road, at the corner of La Cholla Boulevard and West River Road. There is a proposal to build another store at Tangerine Road and Dove Mountain Boulevard, although it is not confirmed by Bashas' representatives.

The grocery store market in Tucson is competitive, with stores such as Safeway, Fry's, Albertsons and Wal-Mart at nearly every intersection. But what keeps customers coming into Bashas' is the fact that it is an Arizona company with family values, Rodriguez said.

The Chandler-based company was founded by brothers Ike and Eddie Basha Sr. in 1932 and has grown to 155 stores in Arizona.

All employees are referred to as members, because Eddie Basha believed the employees of his stores were extensions of his family, Rodriguez said.

Alison Bendler, Bashas' spokesperson, echoed the idea that customers want to shop in an environment where quality and satisfaction are a priority.

"All of our competitors are nationally operated," Bendler said, but Bashas' is locally owned.

To keep up with the increased demand for Bashas' stores, the company wants to open at least five more stores within a year, Bendler said. There is no set number as to how many of those stores will be in Tucson.

Construction began on the Catalina Bashas' in June, just 3.5 miles north of the Oro Valley Bashas.' But the company has a plan.

In one year the Oro Valley Bashas' will be turned into a new farmers market division of Bashas' called Ike's Farmers Market, Rodriguez said.

"It's an exciting format," he said. "It's like nothing you've ever seen."

Ike's Farmers Market will be in the same vein as the newly opened Sprouts Farmers Market, 7665 N. Oracle Road, and Trader Joe's, which is across the street from Sprouts. Produce and whole foods will be the main focus of Ike's, Rodriguez said.

The Oro Valley store was originally set to be the first Ike's to open in Arizona, but the company decided to open a Phoenix location first, which will open this summer.

Bashas' Oro Valley has been serving customers since July 2001 and Rodriguez hopes the customers will embrace the new farmers market format.

Bashas' customers can get meat cut by a trained butcher, eat at the taco grill and purchase specialty cheeses, all under one roof, he said.

Catalina residents have been more than eager for the opening of the Golder Ranch Plaza supermarket.

As the new store director, Rodriguez has been speaking to local community groups about the new store and he said he is feeling the demand for the store to open.

"I am excited," he said. "It's just amazing."

In the last decade Bashas' has doubled the number of stores under the Bashas' name, according to its Web site.

Bashas' also operates AJ's Fine Foods, catering to gourmet and specialty store customers, and Food City, servicing the Hispanic community with ethnic and Hispanic food varieties.

Erin Schmidt is a staff writer covering the Catalina Foothills community and schools. She can be reached at 797-4384 ext 105 or eschmidt@explorernews.com.

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