LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Downtown Lafayette is now home to a new grocery store. With new apartments available and more business moving to the downtown area, the store hopes to fill a void for fresh food.
Even with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the food supply chain across the country, the Handy Stop is ready for customers.
When the Handy Stop announced they were opening last year during Festival International, no one could’ve predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on every aspect of life — including the way we shop for our food.
“Our focus has remained the same; healthier food options that are locally-sourced. It’s actually been easier to get locally-sourced items than it has been with a national chain,” says owner Bradley Cruice. He says the pandemic pushed back their opening date about 4 to 6 weeks, but the focus on local produce has been key.
“We try to buy from local farmers so we know where our produce is coming from”, said Culinary Operations Manager Bianca Plant. She’s worked on the café menu as well as stocking the store’s produce.
She says, “Everything vegetable that is in season right now we try to keep in the store. It’s when the food is most tasty and it has the most nutritious value when it’s in season.”
In 2020, Downtown Lafayette expects to see tremendous growth with 200 plus residential units becoming available. Cruice saw this as an opportunity to bring healthy food to downtown residences and people who work in the area.
He says, “That void was really exacerbated with the pandemic, so as we get healthier food options and locally-sourced goods in, then we can fill that void — that food desert if you will — here in Downtown Lafayette. As more and more people come back to work and they’re filling the offices again, then we will be a resource for them so they can drive through and pick up items and head back home.”
The Handy Shop is planning a grand opening once Gov. John Bel Edwards announces if the state of Louisiana will move into phase 2 of reopening.