Hundreds of eager customers lined up to be among the first to check out Seafood City Supermarket at its grand opening in Mississauga, Ont. on Sept. 28.
“They’ve waited a long time for this,” said Mildred Smith, the chain’s marketing manager, of the crowd. “Our social media has exploded.”
Indeed, anticipation has been building among the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) Filipino community since the California chain announced last year that it would be bringing the concept to Toronto.
Despite its name there’s much more to Seafood City than fish and crustaceans. Within the sprawling 50,000-sq.-ft., newly-built supermarket, shoppers can find conventional groceries along with Filipino specialties, large meat and produce departments (the latter featuring items such as durian fruit and jackfruit the size of soccer balls) and ready-to-eat foods. The store also has a standout seafood department with tables of fresh fish—including varieties popular in the Philippines such as milkfish (bangus)—that shoppers can chose from and also have cleaned and fried in-store for free while they wait.
The company said part of the chain’s appeal is that it offers Filipinos a “home away from home” and is meant to also serve as a community gathering spot. The Mississauga store, for instance, also houses a large food court with popular Filipino brands such as Grill City, Noodle Street, Crispy Town and, coming soon, Jollibee, famous in the Philippines for its fried chicken and spaghetti.
Seafood City, which has 24 locations scattered across California, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii and most recently Chicago, chose the GTA for its first Canadian location because of the region’s large Filipino community (about half of Canada’s 700,000 Filipino-Canadians reside in the area).
Though Seafood City has a distinct Filipino focus, the company said non-Filipinos would love shopping at the store for its huge variety of seafood and unique products not available in other stores.