Gluten-free and organic product section. The store also stocks Bob's Red Mill products.
From University Avenue, the grocery store's big windows, food displays and crisp signage present a contemporary, urban feel.
It's been a long time coming. The heart of the UW-Madison campus has been without a full service grocery store since the 1970 firebombing of the Kroger grocery store on University Avenue.
Since that time, smaller area convenience shops have come and gone; the Mifflin Street Co-op provided healthier options, but it closed its doors in 2006. Capitol Centre Foods (now Capitol Centre Market, 111 N. Broom) has been the grocery store closest to campus for the last couple decades, but is seen by some as too far away -- while in the midst of Miffland, it is out of the way to the dormitories and main campus. Space there is also tight; it did get a revamp a couple of years ago in the face of the Willy Street Co-op opening a second store in Metropolitan Place phase II (a project that was scotched in March 2008 as the development went into foreclosure). As with all building projects in Madison -- so much history.
Enter Fresh Madison Market, an independent grocery store owned by Jeff Maurer, who was previously president of Pierce's Supermarkets, a small southern Wisconsin chain with stores in Baraboo, Portage, Muscoda and Madison's northside. Fresh Madison Market's site at University and Lake, on the ground floor of the new University Square, makes a lot of sense.
The campus store has a number of differences from Pierce's on the northside, says Maurer. "It's more about fresh," says Maurer during a store opening preview on Friday night. "About 50% of the floor space is devoted to fresh." Shoppers here will tend to live closer to the store, come on foot, shop more often -- small basket purchases -- and buy less, but be able to pick fresher products and use them right away.
The design of Fresh Madison Market also reflects the emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables and the deli counter. The produce is easily seen from big glass windows that face University Avenue; the deli sits in the center of the front of the store, rather than against a wall.
The store shopping space is 16,000 square feet; another 2,000 square feet is located on the second floor and contains the deli kitchen and other functions.
Executive Chef for the store is Greg Smart; he comes from The Blue Marlin. He wants to feature less ordinary deli entrees like quinoa salads, "alternate proteins" like tempeh and soy, and vegetarian and vegan skewers. The deli case, prepped for the opening, shows freshly made sandwiches, salmon, grilled asparagus, and farfalle pasta salad.
There is also a sushi-to-go area and a salad bar as well as a hot bar of prepared foods. Bakery items include breads from Madison's Silly Yak bakery. A small case of fresh (salmon, ahi tuna, mahi mahi) and some previously frozen seafood is also stocked.
Elsewhere in the grocery, brand names include big national names, local purveyors, and the private label store brand "Our Family" (from the Nash Finch company, out of Minneapolis). Snacks, nuts, and dried fruits are available by the pound from bins, and there's a place to grind your own natural peanut butter (along with some containers already ground). Frozen organic options include plenty of Amy's frozen entrees; there's also a gluten-free area.
The store stocks all the snack food any college student could want (frozen pizzas are priced competitively with even Woodmans). There's a section dedicated to energy drinks, along with a selection of wine and beer. But there's also an aisle with lots of cleaning supplies and baby wipes. Although the store has been stocked with an eye to the tastes of undergrads and grad students and anyone in a hurry, it's also catering to downtown residents and university staff and someone wanting to make a home-cooked dinner.
And if you just happen to be on your way from here to there and want to stop in, underground parking is available; 30 minutes is validated free with a $25 purchase.