Friday, January 18, 2008

Fresh & Easy

Fresh & Easy finally opened in the East Valley and exceded my expectations on nearly all counts. Tesco, Fresh & Easy's parent company, polled Valley residents and asked them what they wanted in a market. The answer - fresh, easy and healthy food choices. Tesco certainly delivered everything that we wanted. The food is tasty (and yes - Fresh!) the prices are reasonable, the employees are wonderful and you can be in and out the door a just a few minutes.

Fresh & Easy's prepared meals are the stars of this new concept chain market and they are nothing like you've seen before. All meals are packaged so you see exactly what you're getting. The ingredient list on each package is chock full of real food- not unpronouncable chemicals and preservatives. The meals include an exparation date in big, bold type and cooking instructions are printed on the package when needed.

We've eaten the pasta with vegetables, chicken fettucine alfredo, pasta putanesca and dim sum dumplings. Everything was delicious and restaurant quality, but for much less $$$. I tried the tuna sandwich and the chicken salad sandwich for lunch and they were much better than any prepared sandwich from a supermarket. No soggy bread and the lettuce was crunchy. Try the house brand of fresh juices, pomegranate blueberry is my favorite.
If you're just doing your regular weekly grocery shopping, Fresh & Easy has it's own brand of common supermarket items, from tea to jar sauces. Pricing is on target and in most cases the store is less expensive than where I normally shop. Butter was $2.08 per pound over the holidays so I stocked up.

Fresh produce is available and is pre-weighed and wrapped to cut down on the damage you get when everything is piled in a bin and sold by the pound. However, this is where Fresh & Easy falls short. They wax nearly all their produce. Have you ever seen a waxed plum? I hadn't until I purchased one at their store and I won't make that mistake again. Superstition Ranch Market has nothing to fear.

The employees at Fresh & Easy are among the new chain's biggest cheerleaders. A far cry from the apathetic staff at Basha's or the fake overly familiar people at Safeway, the staff here are well trained and seem genuinely excited to work for such a cutting edge company. Although self checkout lanes are the norm here - if you look befuddled for more than 2 seconds an employee will jump to your rescue to check and bag your groceries. I have been told on every trip to the store that I don't ever have to touch my groceries, just ask and they will be happy to handle everything for me. I love this place!

Tesco should think about holding customer service seminars for other companies - they do it right.

While Fresh & Easy doesn't carry every item you'd see on a regular supermarket shelf, they know their customer and serve them well. I hope they'll be around for a long time.

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