Now that our long local nightmare is over and the Wheaton Safeway is open, you may ask yourself, how is that new Safeway? And you may say to yourself, my God, what have they done? Then again, maybe not.
Wheaton’s Safeway turns out to be perfectly Safeway in its Safewayness, with a few quirks. First, I like the parking garage, spacious and well-signed and well-lit, but then again I have already heard complaints that it is too tight to navigate comfortably. I had no trouble,* but it was mostly empty when I was parking. I don’t know if the garage will be big enough at busy times, and they need to work out some vertical kinks: the escalator, including the cart-mover, isn’t always working, and the elevators are spacious but the doors like to close before you’re fully past them, which seems dangerous but, who knows, maybe it’s part of Safeway’s master plan.
* Some fool did leave a cart right in the middle of one driving area, forcing me to take a longer route out — why do people have such trouble returning carts to appropriate places? Not an unusual occurance. It’s things like that that make me hate people.
The store itself is laid out unusually, with the deli (and Starbucks) immediately to the left inside the front doors, the checkout lines ahead and to the right, dairy and frozen foods immediately ahead, and the rest of the store continuing back. Now that I’m typing it, it doesn’t seem so different than usual, but when you’re there it feels a little odd. But the decor and the products and everything are exactly what one expects.
In these initial weeks, they’re overstaffed, offering lots of samples and being super-helpful. We will see how long that lasts. On one of my visits, the number of Starbucks employees (six) nearly exceeded the number of shoppers (in the whole store, not just Starbucks). That may be the biggest danger with this store: I hope Safeway is prepared to be not super-busy for a while, until all those apartments above the Safeway are lived in and other Wheatonians internalize the fact that Safeway is open for business again.
Oh, and there are limes at the new Safeway, 4 for $1 (“Every Day!” allegedly), good price but mediocre quality, mostly small and hard. Of course it is not currently lime season, and most other sources struggle from November through March. Hung Phat remains the current lime go-t0 of choice.
That’s about it. As Freud said: “Sometimes a Safeway is just a Safeway.” Or if you prefer Gertrude Stein: “Safeway is Safeway is Safeway is Safeway.” But would a Safeway by any other name still shop as sweet? Okay, stopping now. The important thing is, it’s there across from the Metro, shiny and clean and new, open 24 hours for Wheaton’s collective convenience. And now I will stop writing about it for a while. Probably.