On the cusp of its grand opening, Mrs. Green’s is facing concerns from police about a lack of available customer parking in bustling downtown New Canaan.
The market, following a soft launch Thursday night, opens Friday in the former post office building at the corner of Pine and Park Streets.
Capt. Vincent DeMaio said this week that he’s discussed the problem with leadership at Mrs. Green’s. A garage underneath the store has about 30 spaces, but those likely will need to go to store employees, DeMaio said.
“They assured me that they will keep things clean and I assured them that there probably will be plenty of fistfights in the Walgreens parking lot, because that’s going to be the natural place for everyone to park, because there will be nowhere else to park,” DeMaio said at Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting, held in the police department’s training room.
Asked about the matter during the soft launch, Chris Paradissis, vice president of store operations & store merchandising for Natural Markets Food Group/Mrs. Green’s, told NewCanaanite.com that some customers likely will use the lot on the northwest corner of Park and Pine Streets, and confirmed that the underground parking is “very limited.”
“We are trying to work with our other neighbors as far as business leaders to see if we can get some help with the [St. Aloysius] Church or whoever else will help us, to allow not only our customers but our associates to be able to park without having to pay,” Paradissis said.
(Town officials have said the town’s chronic parking violators largely are downtown employees.)
Meanwhile, dozens of customers shopped and toured Mrs. Green’s Thursday night to get a look at the space and its offerings. It included organic foods and produce, diet-specific foods and on the far side of the floor (toward Walgreens and Grove Street) a fridge with seafood and sausage, made-to-order pizza and burger areas, salad bar, café and juice bar.
New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tucker Murphy said New Canaan will be able to support both Mrs. Green’s as well as Walter Stewart’s, an established food market that not only has served New Canaan as a business but also supports scores of community events and organizations (and recently launched a bicycle club with New Canaan Bicycles).
“One thing about this market that’s really good for New Canaan is it’s going to keep people from going down to Darien, to Whole Foods,” Murphy said. “It’s good for the town, because people will stay here. They’re going to go to Weed & Duryea before they go to Home Depot, because they’re not going to leave New Canaan. And I think Walter Stewart’s is still people’s hometown market, they’ve been going there forever and ever. I think there is room for both.”
In addition to parking, DeMaio said he raised questions about just what would happen with Mrs. Green’s customers’ food carts if they exited the store and had to walk a ways to get to their cars. Mrs. Green’s will have a “concierge service,” DeMaio said, “in which you purchase your groceries, you leave them in an area along side of it and you come and bring your car and they will load your car.”
Here’s the area we’re talking about: