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What to expect when 4 specialty groceries come to Fort Wayne

Earth Fare is planned for the former Scott's grocery at 710 E. Dupont Road.
Fresh Thyme is planned for the former Borders bookstore building at 4310 Coldwater Road.

Fort Wayne residents have more to look forward to this spring than rising temperatures. We will soon be home to at least four new specialty grocery stores promising to change the way our city eats.

But if you're like me, you've heard talk of these stores for months now, and you're probably getting confused about which ones are coming to town and when they're going to open.

Here's a list of the basic information on what you can expect and when you can expect to see it happen.

Then again, with the weather we've been having, the opening dates listed here are subject to change, but we'll keep you posted.

Earth Fare, Pine Valley

Where: The former Scott's grocery at 710 E. Dupont Road

Atmosphere: "It really is a full-service gourmet grocery store," said John Rogers, co-manager of the Rogers Companies, Earth Fare's landlord, in a December interview. "Their thing is, `We read the labels so you don't have to.'"

Size: About 27,000 square feet

Special features: Earth Fare wants to change the way Fort Wayne eats by eliminating unhealthy items and asking customers to hold them accountable. It wants to be the most trusted organic and natural food market in the country, so it has a "Boot List" on its website, blacklisting the unhealthy ingredients that have been booted from its store. Then it tells customers to join the "Boot Patrol," and report items at the store that don't fit Earth Fare's health-conscious philosophy. Trusty customers who report booted items will be rewarded in $50 gift cards. Earth Fare also encourages customers to buy local by putting a special "100 Mile Commitment" icon on items that come from within 100 miles of your store.

Other locations: A North Carolina-based group with stores in Carmel and Noblesville

When: Scheduled to open late April 2014

A specialty grocery downtown

Where: The first floor of the Lamplight Inn, 300 E. Washington Blvd.

Who: Bobby Petras, chief operating officer of the Lamplight Inn

Atmosphere: "I want it to have a Whole Foods atmosphere where everything's fresh and you have organic options, but also regular options, too," Petras said. "It's going to have a look and feel a lot like 800 Degrees Pizza with exposed concrete."

Size: About 5,500 square feet

Special features: This grocery (whose name remains TBA) wants to change the way Fort Wayne eats by making grocery items available in the heart of downtown. Petras said it will specialize in organic and fresh food options, along with craft beer and wine. It will also have a grab-and-go café with indoor and outdoor seating for nearby workers to visit on their lunch breaks.

Other locations: None

When: Scheduled to open spring 2014

Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market, near Glenbrook Square

Where: The former Borders bookstore at 4310 Coldwater Road

Who: Chris Sherrell, president and CEO of Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market

Atmosphere: "We've taken the experience of an outdoor farmers market and combined it with the convenience of a full-service grocery store," Sherrell said.

Size: About 26,000 to 28,000 square feet

Special features: Fresh Thyme wants to change the way Fort Wayne eats by making healthy foods cheaper and more accessible to shoppers. It specializes in produce, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, much of which is organic. It also has a department of vitamins, supplements and pure body care products. The stores don't follow the traditional grocery store design with numbered aisles, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Other locations: A Phoenix-based group opening more than 60 stores throughout the Midwest in the next five years, including some in Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

When: Scheduled to open summer 2014

teds market, northern Allen County

Where: The former Union Chapel Church at 12628 Coldwater Road

Who: Brian Hench, who oversees the fresh-food department of the Chief Supermarkets group in Defiance, Ohio

Atmosphere: A mini-Fresh Market with a casual atmosphere. "We want the market to belong to our customers," Hench said in a September interview.

Size: About 10,000 square feet.

Special features: Teds market wants to change the way Fort Wayne eats by helping customers prepare home-cooked meals and giving them nutritious grab-and-go options when they're in a rush. Come ready to ask questions because Hench said he'll have knowledgeable staff ready to tell you the best way to cook Brussels sprouts or how you can combine different ingredients for a delicious dinner. Teds market will specialize in fresh produce, hand-carved steaks, fresh baked breads and fine wine and craft beer. It will also have roasts, gourmet sandwiches, salads and an in-store, 40-seat café with outdoor seating.

Other locations: This is the first teds market, but it's owned by the same family as the Ohio-based Chief Supermarkets group. Hench said teds will be a more intimate shopping experience.

When: Scheduled to open summer 2014

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