A new grocery store opened in North Park this week: a Barons Market designed to match the urban community's unique, artistic vibe.
Barons Market opened its seventh Southern California location on Thursday, this time at 3231 E. University Ave., at a site that formerly housed a Fresh & Easy grocery store.
It is the chain's first location in the middle of a densely populated urban area. To fit in with hip, quirky neighborhood, the design of the 15,000-squre-foot store is highly focused on public art.
Earlier this year, Barons Market requested proposals from the creative minds of local artists for a mural on a four-sided column inside the new store meant to represent the theme of “growing community through food and art.”
Barons chose five local Uptown artists to spearhead the art project; together, they created three custom murals, two inside the store and one in the parking garage below.
"This store has been tailor-made to embody the distinct culture that makes North Park extraordinary," said Barons Market Vice President of Marketing Rachel Shemirani in a press release.
"We infused the character of North Park into every element of this store, from the parking garage to the ceiling, to bring the neighborhood a market that shares its passion for public art and local community," she added. "In three very different ways, each mural has captured the same sentiment: We love this community, and everyone that makes it so special."
In addition to its interesting, urban décor, the new store includes features like a local coffee corner selling blends from five local coffee companies including North Park’s Dark Horse Coffee Roasters.
The market offers more than 400 microbrews that represent the wide scope of San Diego's craft beer culture. It also boasts an olive oil and vinegar tasting bar, complete with complimentary bread samples for dipping. Also on the market floor: hot soup, fresh salad and antipasto bars, and a squeeze-it-yourself orange juice press station.
Barons, which focuses on all-natural, healthy food, operates six locations in Southern California: Point Loma; Rancho Bernardo; Alpine; Temecula; Murrieta; Wildomar.