Biz Buzz: March 19, 2017

It wasn’t that long ago that a quickly growing, fast-casual restaurant chain opened three locations in the Grand Valley, only to close all of them within a couple of years.

That was Smashburger, with a franchisee who launched early in the post-recession economy and later admitted he over-saturated the market.

Another fast-growing, burger-and-fries eatery has arrived in the Grand Junction market, with designs on sticking around much longer.

This is Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, with a different franchisee coming in at a time when the valley economy is finally making some gains.

The first of two Grand Junction Freddy’s restaurants will open Tuesday at 737 Horizon Drive, sandwiched between Quality Inn and Burger King.

The Wichita, Kansas-based franchise is known for its pressed-thin, crispy-edge burgers, shoestring fries and chocolate and vanilla frozen custard.

“The Horizon Drive retail corridor is a prime spot because of its easy access to and from I-70,” franchise owner David Giesen said in a statement. “We hope to be a staple for area residents, guests of nearby hotels, and those traveling to and from Grand Junction Regional Airport.”

The nearly 3,000-square-foot restaurant seats more than 80 guests and has additional seating on the patio. Drive-thru service is also available.

Giesen said he doesn’t have any specials planned for next week’s opening day.

“We’re just focusing on great operations and excellent customer service so we can introduce Freddy’s to the Grand Junction area in the best possible way,” he said, adding that the store has hired more than 90 employees for the opening.

Freddy’s will be open every day at 10:30 a.m. It will close at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

A second Freddy’s location is currently under construction at 2489 U.S. Highway 6&50. It’s expected to open in April.

Freddy’s has roughly 250 restaurants in 30 states. This is the first one on the Western Slope.

■ Customers of the Redlands Albertsons store will recall an awkward entrance featuring a Starbucks cafe and a pharmacy that largely obstructed views inside the store.

But thanks to a remodel and rebranding of the store at 2512 Broadway, that’s nothing more than a memory.

The Albertsons-turned-Safeway store reopened last week under a new banner and with a fresh look.

The Starbucks and pharmacy have been relocated to the southwest end of the store — on the left side as you walk in — and store officials added windows at the front of the store.

“It looks huge and bright,” Albertsons spokeswoman Kathy Holland said.

Other new features of the store include soup, hot wing and olive bars, fresh-made sushi and fresh-made sandwiches. Holland said the store also has expanded its offering of natural and organic items, particularly in the produce department.

Wednesday’s grand reopening featured $500 donations each to Broadway, Scenic and Wingate Elementary schools, Redlands Middle School and Fruita Monument High School, as well as a $500 donation to the Community Food Bank of Grand Junction. Safeway also donated $500 in cash and gift cards to the Grand Junction Firefighters Local 2808 union, which firefighters will turn around and distribute to the community.

The remodel also included new flooring, paint and black-and-white pictures of the Grand Valley community.

Holland said the work took about three months.

“We’re just super-excited to welcome the community back into the newly remodeled store,” she said.

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