Clinton Grocery Changes Its Niche

Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp. is shedding its stores' warehouse image and trading in for something more upscale.

The Lanham-based company spent $3 million for the renovation and expansion of its Coventry Plaza store in Clinton, which reopened Sunday.

The refurbished and remodeled 66,000-square-foot store includes an organic and natural foods department, an olive/pasta bar, a cafe, a bakery and an expanded hot food delicatessen. The store also will have a pharmacy and bank.

"Customers are putting tremendous pressure on stores to be fresh and convenient," said Richard Pasewark, spokesman for Shoppers. Three years ago, the store conducted demographic studies and concluded that consumers wanted bulk prices and variety, he said. Shoppers built its first full-service store in Alexandria. It carries more varieties of produce and other fresh-food options, he said.

Last year, Shoppers, which has 13 stores in Prince George's, opened a similar store in College Park.

The Shoppers Food store at New Carrollton Mall will be refurbished by 2001, and "as funds and space make themselves available to us, we'll be refurbishing" all of them, Pasewark said.

Restaurant Wins Approval to Expand

The Prince George's County Council last week approved an amendment to a lease so that the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant in College Park can renovate and expand.

The popular restaurant, decorated with World War I and World War II memorabilia, sits on 3.5 acres of the county-owned College Park Airport.

The $1.5 million expansion, which is to start in the spring, will double the restaurant to about 20,000 square feet, said Jeff Musto, general manager of the restaurant. Two catering halls and a redesigned bar will be added to the eatery, but its main, 56-table operation will not be affected, he said.

The catering halls will allow the restaurant to accommodate wedding receptions, Musto said.

The basic annual rent for the building for the first two years, starting Jan. 1, is $36,000 and increases to $54,000 a year for the remaining 18 years of the new lease. In addition, the 94th Aero will pay 2.5 percent to 3.25 percent of its gross receipts to the county.

The lease amendment is contingent on the completion of the restaurant's expansion and renovation.

The 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant is named after the oldest all-American fighter squadron, which served in both world wars, making it "rich in heritage and old in history," Musto said. The restaurant--one of 18 with military themes that are owned by Specialty Restaurants Corp. of Anaheim, Calif.--is adding two model fighter planes to the four outside the restaurant, he said.

Storage Firm Signs 16-Year Lease

Professional Records Storage Inc. of Landover has signed a 16-year lease for the old Safeway Inc. warehouse at 1501 Cabin Branch Rd.

The 440,000-square-foot facility will consolidate the firm's five warehouses, which hold 1.5 million file-storage boxes, said Doug Peters, president of the company.

Because the warehouse is inside the Capital Beltway, the company is receiving a property tax abatement from the county worth about $500,000 over 10 years, Peters said.

Chamber of Commerce Official Quits

Bonnie L. Beck resigned as executive vice president of the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce, effective Nov. 1.

Beck, who had worked at the chamber since 1986, was responsible for the administration, management and daily operations of the nonprofit business organization.

Robert Zinsmeister, the chamber's assistant vice president, is acting executive vice president until a successor is named.

Separately, Carolyn M. Headen, director of marketing at the chamber, announced last week that she would resign effective Nov. 30 to become director of development at the National Association of State Boards of Education in Alexandria.

Headen, an 11-year veteran, handled communications, marketing, public relations and special events for the Lanham-based organization, which has more than 600 business members.

Development Forum

The Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce is hosting a panel of regional business and economic development leaders Nov. 18 to discuss "Business Forecast 2000: Our Economic Outlook."

The event will cover regional transportation, high-technology investment, labor availability, education and training, and regional economic expectations.

Panelists will include William Badger, chief executive of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp.; David Edgerley, director of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp.; Jim Hughes, the state's acting assistant secretary for business development; Joseph J. James, president of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp.; Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore; Dick Story, executive director of the Howard County Economic Development Authority; and Steve Walker, founder of Trusted Information Systems and a Howard County venture capitalist.

The event will be from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at the Sheraton International Hotel at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Call the chamber at 301-725-4000.

Awards of Excellence

Am Excellence in Business awards program will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at the Greenbelt Marriott. The program, sponsored by the Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce, will feature Phillip A. Singerman, president and executive director of Maryland Technology Development Corp.

Call the chamber at 301-731-5000.

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CAPTION: The 66,000-square-foot store has reopened in Clinton after renovations.

CAPTION: Produce manager Byron Nichols stacks tangerines at the remodeled Shoppers Food Warehouse store in Clinton.