OSCEOLA TOWNSHIP - After nine months of planning and demolition, the Meneguzzo family finally broke ground Friday on its new 40,000-square-foot combination grocery/hardware store, "Louie's Fresh Market," on U.S. 41 in Osceola Township.
"Last year we decided to move (Louie's Super 2 Foods in Calumet) and get a better location more convenient for the customer," operations manager Jason Meneguzzo said. "It's been a really long process. We had quite an extensive cleanup project of the old gas station."
The process since acquiring the property in October included receiving a $400,000 Brownfield redevelopment loan and plan in December and demolishing the old gas station (with the $1.94 unleaded gas price still on the sign) over the last two and a half weeks.
Daily Mining Gazette/Stephen Anderson
Stakeholders from Louie’s Fresh Market participate in a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning. Pictured from left are Glen Tolksdorf from the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce (partially obstructed); Sandy Meneguzzo; Greg Meneguzzo, operations manager; Lennon Hughes, vice president of commerical lending at Superior National Bank; Nick Meneguzzo, operations manager; Scott Yaeger, meat specialist at Nash Finch Company; Jason Meneguzzo, operations manager; Misty Meneguzzo; Louie Meneguzzo, Jr., owner; and Jon Julien, president of LJJ Construction.
Now, design/build contractor LJJ Construction plans to have the 30,000-square-foot grocery store, 10,000-square-foot hardware store, Shell gas station and yet-to-be-named fast food restaurant up and running by Jan. 1.
"We're a few days ahead of schedule as far as getting into the ground, so we're ecstatic about that," said LJJ president Jon Julien, whose company is working with U.P. Engineers & Architects on project designs. "Getting in the ground a few days early means a big difference now because a few days in December would be a lot harder to work in. Every day counts at this point.
" It's going to be a really nice looking building, and I think it's going to be a great addition to Osceola Township and Calumet area," he added. "We're just very happy to get this project up and going."
LJJ will typically have 30-40 people working on the site during the next five and a half months, the new grocery/hardware store is expected to employ between 75 and 80 workers, and the fast food restaurant is expected to employ another 35 to 40 people.
"What Louie's is doing is a great addition to our area. It helps create jobs and it's all around good for our community," said Glen Tolksdorf, who represented the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce in the group of 10 people who pushed gold-painted shovels into the ground on the site at 10 a.m. Friday.
Louis Meneguzzo, Sr., who passed away Feb. 23, started in the grocery business in 1946; Louie's in Lake Linden opened in 1976 and moved to its current location in 1994; the family acquired the old Fraki's store in Calumet in 2002; and now it will move Louie's Super 2 Foods (which will likely close out in about a month) to Osceola Township and rename it Louie's Fresh Market.
"It's a big step forward, it's good for the community and we're going to have a state-of-the-art store," said Louie Meneguzzo, Jr., whose sons Jason, Greg and Nick are operations managers for the store.