(Cleveland, OH) WUAB. Watch out, America – Cleveland now has fresh food for sale. That’s right, Cleveland is on the up swing and is jumping on this whole new “eating healthy/living long” fad. The town once voted the most overweight city in the US is fighting back with two big meaty paws. Now that taking care of yourself is a cool, hip trend – Cleveland wants in. If your only previous luncheon option was purchasing street meat from a man in a funny hat whose “stove” was hitched to the back of a 1994 Dodge Caravan, fear no more… Heinen’s Fine Foods has opened the doors to it’s 18th location right here in the heart of Cleveland. The opening of this downtown location is bridging the gap between restaurants and “grab and go” style convenience stores in offering a full fledged grocery store with fresh made, ready to go orders. And as much as I love grabbing a quick lunch of Blazing Hot Cheetos, purple soda and being sworn at in multiple languages from my local convenience store, I am looking forward to adding Heinen’s to my list of places to frequent for lunch.

The new Heinen’s resides in what was once a tomb for the now defunct Cleveland Trust Bank. The vault even still remains in the new home of the Northeast Ohio Chain grocer. I doubt any criminals will have this vault on their “hit list’ unless some burglars in black and white striped outfits from 1942 some how find a time machine. While it remained vacant for years, it’s original beautiful architecture remains with some modern renovations. The Brothers Henein reportedly spent $10 million to create this 27,000-square-foot supermarket in located at 900 Euclid Ave which was designed by New York Stock Exchange architect – George Browne Post. The three floor grocery store consists of fresh foods on the ground floor with alcohol occupying the top floor – the top floor being of highest importance and working it’s way down in my opinion.

Introducing Heinen’s self served Wine Station…

The building may be old but the technology that is powering this new Heinen’s location is cutting edge. We have the self serving Wine Station to thank which is an automated wine dispensing machine that is activated by users swiping their pre-paid Heinen’s wine card. No bartender means no line. Another great bonus by not having a bartender is that there is no one to tip. What’s also great is that unlike a bartender – a machine can’t judge you or most importantly: cut you off.

We’ve all seen the angry customer kicking the broken vending machine after it’s rudely eaten their last dollar. Now imagine that scenario with alcohol involved… That’s probably why the new Wine Stations are steal plated.

Heinen’s is also taking advantage of the craft beer explosion, offering a vast selection of bottled micro brews and a rotating line-up on tap. You can get a 12 oz beer on tap for $5 or try a taster for only $1. Unfortunately, unlike the wine station, you will have to deal with a conscious responsible human to serve you beer. There is no automated beer station as of yet but, we have hopes for the future.

Downtown Cleveland was once like many major cities offering a variety of shopping, from large department stores such as Higbee’s to local markets and everything in between. Recent reports state that Cleveland had a 200% move in rate from the previous year. Cleveland appears to be reinventing itself and changing it’s image completely. What is Cleveland new image? Well, I’m not exactly sure but Cleveland old image was somewhere along the lines of an overweight sports fan with a mullet, drunkenly tearing into a Ruben sandwich in Zubaz pants, standing in solid white Nike hightops. With many projects already in the works for the downtown area – the future of downtown looks very promising.

Now, if only a Marc’s would open in downtown Cleveland – my prayers would be answered.