‘We have been waiting forever’: Hundreds brave the cold for Ukrop’s Market Hall grand opening

"We have been waiting forever" Ukrop's Market Hall opens in Henrico

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - The wait is over – hundreds of people braved the chilly temperatures to get some of Ukrop’s favorite items under one roof!

The Ukrop’s Market Hall opened to the public Tuesday on the former Bon Air Baptist Church’s Village Campus at the corner of Patterson Avenue and Horsepen Road.

You know what's in that little brown box, don't you? UKROP'S MARKET HALL, 7250 Patterson Avenue--opening tomorrow (that...

Posted by Ukrop's Homestyle Foods on Monday, December 7, 2020

The sanctuary, which is the only building remaining on the property, was repurposed for the market hall.

“You’ll see the beautiful church windows, the natural light that will pour through,” said Scott Aronson, President of Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods. “We did open up the drop ceiling that was here to expose some of the beams, but we really wanted to continue the use of this space for enjoyment within the community.”

“I stopped by here on Friday to get the confirmation date on when they were going to open,” said Cindy Dyson, a longtime Ukrop’s customer. “We have been waiting forever.”

The wait continued all day long as people braved the cold in order to get some of those favorite items.

“We are anxious to get up here and have some of our food that we used to get before, like the chicken, mac ‘n cheese, go around and get the ginger snaps and check out the cakes,” said Deanna Williams, another customer.

It’s been 10 years since the Ukrop’s grocery stores were sold. Tuesday’s opening brought a wave of nostalgia for many customers and leaders with the company.

“It’s in our DNA, it’s in our blood to be able to serve customers and provide great tasting food,” Aronson said.

One of the unique areas in the market is Dot’s Pastry Shop, which was an RVA bakery purchased in 1976.

Customers will be able to experience that “corner bakery” atmosphere according to Aronson.

“In the case, you’ll see colorful items now decorated for Christmas… hand-iced brownie bites and cakes,” he added. “These are items we used to sell when we operated the Ukrop’s stores but haven’t been able to do that for 10 years. We really think that nostalgia and service of being able to interact with a bakery associate and be able to pick out that cupcake you want… is going to be something that brings smiles to people’s faces.”

While there were plenty of new faces in the crowd, there were some friendly familiar ones as well.

“I was a 25-year-old guy, first job as a store manager, and I actually hired Dale in September 1972 when we opened our first store north of the James River,” said Bobby Ukrop, CEO of Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods.

For 41 years Dale Nixon spent his days inside the dairy section of the Ukrop’s grocery store, serving customer after customer.

“When we came in the store, we were ready to work!” Nixon said. “Whatever it took to take care of the customer, we were there.”

Now, Nixon is the customer and hoping for that same friendly interaction.

“For me going in the store it was the customer service,” Dyson said. “They had great customer service.”

Ukrop’s Market Hall will have 5 unique areas for dining.
Ukrop’s Market Hall will have 5 unique areas for dining. (Source: Ukrop’s)

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult on many businesses across the area, Aronson said the drive to provide the community with these homestyle favorites is what pushed them forward with opening during the pandemic.

“I think there’s a little bit more of a community spirit where we’re all going through difficult times during this pandemic,” he added. “We’re just excited to be able to serve our customers once again.”

Previously, Urkop said the new space will not only serve as a marketplace and dining space but an opportunity to perhaps expand its product line.

“When you’re trying to get distribution of those products in the big chains, there’s a long time to get those products accepted. By having a retail space, albeit a small one, we will be able to test new items that we think might really work well,” Ukrop added.

Ukrop’s Market Hall hours are Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

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