Hundreds of residents lined up Monday, Oct. 26, to be among the first to shop at Johnstown's new Kroger, 800 W. Coshocton St. The long line prompted officials to admit customers about 40 minutes prior to the scheduled 4 p.m. opening.

Hundreds of residents lined up Monday, Oct. 26, to be among the first to shop at Johnstown's new Kroger, 800 W. Coshocton St. The long line prompted officials to admit customers about 40 minutes prior to the scheduled 4 p.m. opening.

Various Kroger leaders and local officials spoke briefly before a ribbon cutting to officially open the store that boasts about 75,000 square feet.

Mayor Kevin Riffe thanked Kroger for investing the time and about $12-million to bring the store to the village during difficult economic times.

"Thank you for doing this for Johnstown and the surrounding area," he said.

State Rep. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) said he's in charge of his family's weekly grocery shopping.

"I go Krogering," he said. "Your stores have an excellent reputation and high level of service. You already have a long-standing record of service in this part of the county. This enhanced store will allow you to continue to serve the community of Johnstown. Thanks for this significant investment."

Bruce Macaulay, president of Kroger's Columbus Division, said new stores don't just happen without community support.

"We're here because of the leadership from Johnstown and Licking County," he said. "We started this in October 2008 and said we would have it opened before the holidays."

The new Kroger will employ 176 associates, including 70 new employees from the Johnstown area.

Macaulay said Kroger doesn't do anything without helping the community -- 3 percent of the store's total sales on Oct. 27 will be donated to Johnstown-Monroe schools. Three percent of the total sales on Oct. 29 were scheduled to go to Northridge schools.

Store manager Julie Tolliver said the management staff "couldn't wait" to get customers into the new store.

Tolliver, of Grove City, most recently worked as Kroger's assistant produce merchandiser. The 10-year Kroger employee said Johnstown is like "coming home" since she was reared in small-town Chillicothe.

Amy McCormick, Kroger media manager, said the new Johnstown store is most comparable to the Sunbury store that opened a year ago.

Highlights of the store include a fresh sushi bar, a Donatos "take and bake" pizza, an olive bar, a "chef on the run" with self-serve specialty salads, a Whimsical Whoopie Pie station exclusive to Kroger and a full-service meat and seafood shop.

"The seafood was packaged at the old store," McCormick said. "Now there's a big selection and you have service interaction."

The new Kroger also offers a kitchen place with houseware items, as well as upscale private label coffees. Other features include a drive-up pharmacy, expanded health and beauty care area and expanded book, magazine, greeting and gift card area, as well as Dress for Success dry cleaners. Thirteen registers, including self-scan previously not available locally, are also available.

Johnstown's Paula Campbell and her son, Craig, were the first customers to enter the store on Monday.

"I live next door," she said. "I need cat food and wanted to check out all the good stuff."

The Campbells formed the start of the line beginning at 1:45 p.m.

Frazeysburg resident Susan DeLong visited the Johnstown store exclusively for the grand opening.

"I love it," she said. "I found things easily and there's lots of help."

Thirty-year Johnstown resident Grace Hubbard said the new store is closer to her home.

"I love it," she said. "There's more variety, and I think the aisles are wider."

Stephanie Lamp, also of Johnstown, said she liked the layout of the grocery store.

"I really like it," she said. "There's more variety."

Johnstown resident Courtney Loudermilk said the employees are friendly and the store is clean, and there's much more variety.

Her husband, Kenneth Loudermilk, appreciates the seafood selection.

"The old store had just the basics," he said. "I had to go to New Albany to get fresh crab or lobster. There's a lot more variety here."

Johnstown's Big Red Band and fall sport athletes made an appearance at the store on Tuesday. OSU two-time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin was on hand signing autographs on Wednesday.

Regular store hours are daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.