Since my arrival, all I have heard about is the new Publix opening.
OK … and?
I completely understand that having a large grocery store chain come to town is important to the community’s growth and development. It really is a wonderful step forward and should be celebrated.
But, people here seem to focus on that fact that it’s a Publix store specifically, and I was confused by that.
In North Carolina, Publix stores are few and far between, but they are finally starting to make their way across the state. As I was packing up my apartment to move here, the City of Hickory (which was about 30 minutes south of my coverage area) announced Publix was coming. It was met with mild fanfare and excitement. But, when the newspaper I worked for in Lenoir announced Chick-fil-A was coming to town, our Facebook page swarmed with comments, likes and shares. We started getting phone calls at the office about where people could apply for jobs, etc. Construction hadn’t even started yet! We received more Facebook traffic that day after the announcement than we did when the county school board made major decisions affecting their students, or even when murderers were convicted. We get seriously pumped about Chick-fil-A. (Sadly, I never got to experience the Lenoir Chick-fil-A. After listening to rumors for two years that it would be built, I left for Arcadia just a few months before construction began! And, it was only two minutes from the newspaper office, too!!)
So, when I was assigned to tour the Arcadia Publix before it opened, I had no idea what awaited me. Brian West, public relations manager for Publix, greeted me at the door and welcomed me inside. He said that it probably didn’t look like what I was used to since not everything was stocked yet.
“Well, I’ve never been in a Publix before,” I said plainly.
West’s mouth dropped, and he started to laugh. “Are you serious? Really? You’ve never been in a Publix before? That is amazing!”
He then proceeded to say that this was my first time in a Publix every time he introduced me to an employee along the tour. He was delighted that my first Publix experience was at Arcadia’s before it has even opened. He promised that if I returned for the grand opening, he would buy me a Publix sub.
“I’m a really picky eater,” I said. “I’m just warning you now. So, it’ll be put to the test.”
West assured me I would love it.
In the days leading up to the grand opening, the buzz around DeSoto County was evident. It seemed like everyone was talking about it on Facebook, and in some cases literally counting down the days. Even if I hadn’t been promised a sub, I would have been there out of pure curiosity.
It was exciting to see the long line of people standing outside waiting for the doors to open, filming the cutting of the green ribbon and watching people hustle into the store with a grocery cart.
As soon as I got my pictures of the mini stampede, West took me to the sub counter. It was 8 a.m. — not normally the time one eats a sub sandwich — but West was so excited to have me try one. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’m really not a sandwich person. Slap some peanut butter and grape jelly on two pieces of bread and I’m set. West explained to the woman behind the counter that this would be my first Publix sub.
“You look scared.” she laughed. “What do you want on it?”
“I like turkey,” I said.
“You’ve got to have Boar’s Head. And what kind of bread?” she asked.
“White,” I answered.
She put a big wad of turkey on a beautiful white loaf of bread, which is baked fresh each morning in the bakery. “OK, so we have mayonnaise and lots of different sauces and condiments,” she said.
I smiled. “That’s it.”
She blinked. “That’s it?”
“Meat and bread,” I said.
West burst out laughing, slapping his knee. “Oh my gosh! Meat and bread!”
I grinned. “I told you I was picky,” I said.
The lady wrapped up the sandwich and handed it over. For the rest of my visit, West laughed and told everyone we met about my meat-and-bread sub. I’m used to it. At least he didn’t make me eat it in front of him. Instead, I waited until I got back to the office. As I uploaded videos of the ribbon cutting that morning to the Arcadian’s Facebook page, I unwrapped my sub and took my first bite of the legendary Publix sandwich.
You know what? If you’re a sandwich person and love diving into two pieces of bread loaded down with flavor, meats and veggies, it lives up to the hype. It was pretty darn delicious.
So now I can proudly say I’ve eaten a Publix sub, and I can cross that off my “New to Florida Bucket List.” I think next should be baking and eating a Florida orange juice cake. Sweets are more my style!