An independently owned grocery store carrying fresh meat, produce and sundries will open downtown at 163 West Short Street in the Traditional Bank building.
General manager Darren Teodoro said Shorty's, An Urban Market, will be a New York-style city grocery to serve people who live and work downtown, which does not have a supermarket.
Edgar Hume, who owns The Clock Shop across the street from the Shorty's site, can't wait. "A grocery store is desperately needed in this area," he said. "I really wish them a lot of success."
Teodoro said he hopes to work with Lexington Farmers Market to carry locally grown produce. He hopes to open a wine shop adjoining the market later.
"We will not try to compete with major markets like Kroger. But we want to be self-sustaining with everyday items people need like milk, bread, paper towels, aspirin and ladies' products," Teodoro said.
"The idea is it will be a market for people who are downtown and want a place to run in and get things without having to get in their car and drive to the suburbs."
Shorty's will offer delivery service and Internet ordering. It is expected to open in late April. If the concept is successful in Lexington, it will be franchised in other cities, Teodoro said.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who lives downtown, called the project "a great example of preserving these old buildings and finding new uses for them."
Gray, who had a sneak preview of the work going on in the building Wednesday, said "it's going to be not just a grocery, but a destination, which is exactly what we need."
The market will have on-site parking on the east side of the building. After 4 p.m., a larger adjoining parking lot also will be available. Shorty's will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Chris Estes, principal interior designer with EOP Architects, said the interior will have exposed brick walls and antique wood floors. A large vault door, a holdover from another bank that used to take up the entire first floor, will be a focal point of the 2,500-square-foot space. Grocery shelves will go floor-to-ceiling, and items at the top will be accessible by old-fashioned rolling wood ladders.
Teodoro is a certified public accountant who, in recent years, was comptroller for several Mercedes Benz and BMW car dealerships in Connecticut. His family owned restaurants, delis and gourmet ice cream shops throughout Connecticut and the Northeast. "I come to this with experience in the food business and a strong financial background," he said.
He is also in the horse business. Three years ago, Teodoro came to Lexington to train jumpers for his friends, New York fashion designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka.
Teodoro and his financial backers, several local people in the Thoroughbred industry, have been working on the urban market concept since February.
Harold Tate, president of the Downtown Development Authority, said the opening of a grocery was "a big win for downtown."
"It will be a great asset. A grocery will work well in conjunction" with the farmers market just a block to the west in Cheapside Park, Tate said. "I really hope everybody supports this."