Modesto's new Rite Aid at McHenry and Briggsmore avenues opens Thursday as the first business in the Village West Shopping Center. Then on Dec. 3, Qdoba Mexican Grill will open at the center's south end.
"It's absolutely beautiful, and we're very excited that all of us will be moving over there," said Deanna Lunt, who manages Rite Aid's current store at 2401 McHenry Ave.
That store will close for good at 6 tonight, and its 20-member staff will move all the prescriptions and remaining items to the new 1707 McHenry Ave. location, which opens at 8 a.m. Thursday.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will start at 9 a.m.
"That's the finest-looking Rite Aid building in America," said Carl Wesenberg, who developed Village West. The 17,340-square-foot drugstore architecturally complements the adjacent 12,043-square-foot shopping center.
For nearly five decades, the corner was home to a Foster Dairy Farms plant. Its ice cream production facility closed about six years ago, creating a vacancy at one of Modesto's busiest intersections.
Wesenberg, who is married to a member of the Foster family, formed a partnership with family and friends to buy the 2.5-acre parcel in 2005. The shopping center's construction cost more than $7 million and took longer than expected, but Wesenberg is proud of how it turned out.
Modesto's Architecture Plus Inc. designed the center, which has an elaborate fountain, trees and visually staggered storefronts enhanced with brick, stone and awnings.
"I just wanted to do the right thing at that intersection because it's good for the community," Wesenberg said. "Rite Aid, hopefully, will be brilliantly successful there."
The store has what Rite Aid calls its "Customer World" design, and it is the first of its kind in Modesto.
"Pharmacy is our core business, so we made it the focal point, or star, of the Customer World design," said Joe Fairman, Rite Aid's regional vice president. "Aisles are wide and clutter-free, and the design makes it easy for customers to find what they're shopping for."
The store offers drive-through pharmacy service, a Thrifty hand-dipped ice cream counter, a pharmacy waiting area with chairs and a TV, private patient consultation room, GNC vitamin area, digital photo processing center and cosmetics department.
The new Rite Aid is less than one-third the size of the current one. The old store, built in 1969 for Payless Drugs, is in the process of being sold by Rite Aid, but who's buying it has not been made public.
Like Rite Aid officials, the owners of the Qdoba Mexican Grill think the Briggsmore and McHenry intersection will be good for business.
"It's a great location with a beautiful building and courtyard, where we'll have outdoor seating near the fountain," said Kimberly Mohr, marketing coordinator for Qdoba. She said the Qdoba franchise in Modesto, Turlock and Atwater is owned by Brandon Graspointner of Turlock. His father, Dennis Graspointner, owns about 15 McDonald's restaurants in the Central Valley.
Wesenberg said Qdoba is a "very financially strong, locally owned franchise," which is why he agreed to the lease.
Rite Aid is not the only Modesto drugstore being replaced.
The old Longs Drug Store at 1625 McHenry was taken over by CVS Drugs last year, but it will close when the new CVS opens in March on the southeast corner of McHenry and Briggsmore.
CVS also is excited about moving its staff to that intersection. CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said his chain prefers building on busy corners because it provides easy access to the store and drive-through pharmacy.
Construction started this summer on the 13,000-square-foot CVS, which is where Mallard's Restaurant once stood.
Across the street, Wesenberg said he is being picky about who locates in Village West because he wants only well-capitalized, high-quality operators that will meet the shopping center's strict maintenance and neatness standards.
The 2,332-square-foot Qdoba Mexican restaurant is the only Village West lease signed so far.
Qdoba is accepting applications for 15 to 17 part-time, minimum-wage jobs, said Michael Garza, who will manage the new Modesto eatery. It will have indoor seating for 60 and outdoor seating for 25 to 30.
"Everything we make here is fresh. Nothing is pre-made," said Garza, 25, who currently manages Turlock's Qdoba, which opened in May. Atwater's Qdoba opened in November 2007.
Garza said the restaurants are known for their $5 burritos, which weigh close to 2 pounds.
Job applications for Qdoba can be completed at modesto.qdoba-ca.com.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2196.