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New Pi readies to open Cedar Rapids store by end of 2014

Store hires head chef, opens bakery facility

A worker cleans the floor as construction continues on the New Pioneer Food Co-Op location at 3338 Center Point Rd. NE in Northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, August. 27, 2014. The food store is moving into the former Great Outdoors Traditions sporting goods store. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
A worker cleans the floor as construction continues on the New Pioneer Food Co-Op location at 3338 Center Point Rd. NE in Northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, August. 27, 2014. The food store is moving into the former Great Outdoors Traditions sporting goods store. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — New Pioneer Food Co-op’s Cedar Rapids’ location is on track to open by the end of the year.

Matt Hartz, general manager of the store, said the co-op is pushing to open its third location, 3338 Center Point Rd. NE, by the holiday season, earlier than the spring 2015 date it announced in October.

“There’s a ton of activity going on outside and inside,” Hartz said.

The co-op also has hired Matt Steigerwald, head chef at Lincoln Winebar in Mount Vernon, to lead its prepared food sections.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Steigerwald said. “It’s a real chance to put a new stamp on it.”

Lincoln Winebar bartender Jesse Sauerbei will buy the restaurant from Steigerwald, taking over the reins next week. Steigerwald said operations will not change too much, with the restaurant still serving lunch and adding some sandwiches and more beers to the menu.

Meanwhile, Steigerwald will spend his time between now and New Pi’s opening at the Iowa City and Coralville stores learning “the routine and logistics.” He also needs to build a menu and hire kitchen staff.

“We got a rock star chef to lead our prepared foods section,” Hartz said.

The new building also is more energy efficient, Hartz said, adding although the store is the same size as its Coralville location — about 10,000 square feet of retail space — it will use about half of the energy.

It is using energy efficient LED lighting, a more efficient HVAC system and has efficient stormwater management, he said.

To prepare for the new store, the co-op opened a bakery in North Liberty two months ago at 1650 Jordan St. The 6,000-square-foot facility allows the company to greatly expand its bakery capacity, Hartz said.

“This was a necessary step to open our Cedar Rapids location,” he said. “We didn’t have the capacity before.”

Last year, bakery sales hit $1.8 million. Hartz anticipates the new location will increase sales by about 50 percent.

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