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Derrick Erickson works in the Chop Shop at Market Place Fresh Foods Tuesday

morning. The Chop Shop is unique to the new store in that it allows customers

to have produce fresh cut free of charge. 

Market Place Fresh Foods, 1912 Fourth St., in La Grande, will host a festive, day-long grand opening from 7 a.m. to 

9 p.m. Aug. 3, including a public ribbon cutting ceremony with the Union County Chamber of Commerce at 11 a.m. 

The store’s director, Lisa Snyder, invites the public to stop in, browse through the store’s new food brands, meet the management team and enjoy an event centered around healthy, delicious foods. 

“We will have hourly giveaways from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and live music on our rooftop and in our bistro room,” Snyder said. “We’ll also have wine tasting and sample barbecuing that day.” 

The store is a new version, distinguished from the prior Market Place Family Foods store.

“We’re a brand-new store, not the old store making a new start,” Snyder explained. 

The store’s co-owners, Marco Rennie and Dave Yount, are a new partnership as well. Rennie will be present on Saturday for the ribbon cutting ceremony on the parking lot side of the building near the Fourth Street entrance. 

Along with Snyder, the store’s management team includes: Sierra Ingram, working as The Fourth Street Bistro manager and chef; Greg Payne, produce manager and chop shop guru; Larra Cutler, front-end supervisor; and Samantha Flett, marketing-advertising director. 

“We have two additional chop shop artists besides Greg, two additional cashiers, our pricing specialist and eight people who work in the bistro,” Snyder said. 

The bistro offers a gourmet burger menu and paninis that are made fresh daily and can be ordered from the case and pressed right there. There is also a selection of pre-made gourmet salads and a full salad bar. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, a hot bar is available, including biscuits and gravy, sausage, bacon, hash browns and yogurt bars. The lunch and dinner items rotate daily. Everything from the bistro is to-go, so there is no table service, but customers may opt to use the dining spaces of the store. 

“We have five dining rooms, in the bistro dining area and two upstairs indoor dining spaces and two outdoor dining spaces, including our large rooftop deck with the best view of the valley,” Snyder said. “There are table umbrellas on the rooftop dining area for shade.” 

The Market Place has 12 tap handles, featuring 10 beers and two ciders. The store has a brew hiker on staff, who will shuttle drinks up and down the stairs to seated customers in the dining areas.

Also sold in the bistro room are items made by Le Bebe Cakes of La Grande and baked goods by Vanilla Stag from Joseph, which are delivered to the store several times a week.

“Vanilla Stag have an amazing sourdough recipe that is literally the best I’ve tasted,” Snyder said. “They are the bakery inside our Joseph store too.” 

The main changes in the grocery part of the store include a product mix that features upscale and more health-conscious options. Snyder emphasized that the old store, Market Place Family Foods, carried the Western Family line of products, but the new Market Place Fresh Foods will be carrying a product mix that is significantly different from that. Need something they don’t have? Just ask, Snyder said, and they will order it in.

The store’s three main brands are Wild Harvest, a natural food brand, Culinary Circle and Essential

Everyday products.

The store’s management team wants to create a shopping experience that is enjoyable for the customers and that offers them individualized customer service from helpful, knowledgeable staff. 

“We offer convenient options that you can’t get anywhere else in town,” Snyder said. “For example, in our chop shop, we will cut meats for the customer and package it for free and send it home ready to either cook or eat.” 

The chop shop will do meal prepping for people and place it in daily meal containers so they are good to go, a great service for the busy nine-to-fiver or an elderly person who is no longer interested in cooking meals for themselves.

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Chop Shop Knife Artist Derrick Erickson cuts a yellow watermelon.

“The chop shop uses organic beef from Oregon Country Beef, and it also gives out recipes that go with their featured specialty products,” she said. “Just ask them, and they will give you the recipe and gather all the ingredients for you, all chopped up and ready to go.”

Looking to a greener future, Fresh Foods offers reusable grocery bags, and they will re-use a customer’s meal containers if they are brought in at the time of service. 

“We use a lot of local vendors and their products sell very well,” Snyder said. “We have a specialty cheese case that sells very well, and we pair it with our wine display.” 

The store layout has changed too. The produce department is up front as customers enter the store, and the chop shop is immediately to the right. The dairy and charcuterie case, which holds a variety of sliced meats and cheeses, is on the far wall of the store.

“We also have a beer cave, which is La Grande’s only walk-in beer cooler,” she said. 

The rooftop will be used for a number of events, including a morning yoga class by Kim Haynes of Yoga Dawn, and musical performances as advertised on the store’s Facebook page. 

The store is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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