Think of it as a late (but welcome) Christmas present: Kroger on Euclid will open in early January, just before University of Kentucky students come back.
The store not far from campus has been closed since March for a complete rebuild, and now it's just about ready to open.
"We'll start stocking on Monday," said Kyle Dawson, the store's assistant manager. Shelves are already marked with tags indicating where products will go.
The new store will be much bigger and will have new features. But maybe the most unusual of them for modern grocery shoppers will be the windows.
Most Kroger stores these days use skylights for natural light, but this one can't do that because of rooftop parking, Dawson said.
So they put windows in the walls — what a retro idea. Shoppers in produce, near the entrance off Euclid, will be able to see fruits and vegetables in natural light.
The produce section is where one of three unique murals will go. Another will be along Marquis Avenue, where there also will be a walk-in entrance for "grab-and-go" items in the expanded hot food section.
Another will be in the adjoining café seating area. There also will be outdoor seating along Euclid.
The store will have another feature bound to be popular with the UK crowd: a beer cave.
"We thought being so close to campus, that would be a good thing," Dawson said. It's a walk-in cooler, similar to what Kroger Wine & Spirits Shops have.
Speaking of the Wine & Spirits Shop, Kroger's new addition to the Euclid shopping scene on the corner of Ashland, in the old video store space, will open shortly after the main store, Dawson said.
Inside the main store will be about 65,000 square feet, with a different layout from the previous Euclid store.
Standing at the front, where the main checkouts will be (five big check lanes, two express lanes and 12 U-scans, according to Dawson), the store will look like this:
■ Starting on the left will be the pharmacy and over-the-counter drugstore items, which will have a drive-through that wraps underneath the ramp to rooftop parking.
■ Dairy items will be along the wall, stretching to the back, where there will be several aisles, integrating natural and soy milk, cheese and foods.
■ Personal care will be next to baby items, including diapers and food.
■ Frozen foods will be on the left side of the store; dry foods in the middle and right.
■ Meats and seafood will be along the wall at the back, near Marquis Avenue.
■ Deli and hot foods will be near Euclid Avenue.
■ Starbucks, floral and produce will be near the front.
■ Between the checkout lanes and the parking lot will be two elevators to take carts to the rooftop parking and escalators. "Cart-alators," capable of moving carts up, were considered but were not put in.
The parking lot, which seems smaller, has only about 20 fewer spaces than the old Euclid front lot, Dawson said.
On the ground, there will be 90 parking spaces, he said, compared to about 110 before. On the roof, there will be 120 more. And the ramp has a heating system, so it won't ice in winter, he said.
One of the biggest differences is one that customers will never see: Storage and prep areas are largely underground, in a 30,000-square-foot basement. All the food will rise to the customer level through six more elevators behind the scenes.
Dawson said no date has been set for the store to open, but a grand opening with Kroger corporate executives will be announced soon.
In the meantime, Kroger is hiring. It is looking for about 100 permanent part-time workers. The company will hold a job fair Saturday at the Beaumont Kroger store, 3175 Beaumont Center Circle, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or you can apply online at Kroger.com/careers.
Dawson said the new store will have about 300 employees, including many who have worked at other local stores for the past nine months.