Here's why your Florida friends are freaking out about Publix coming to Louisville




We're only exaggerating a little bit when we say Publix's plan to open its first stores in the commonwealth has rocked the Louisville community.

Details are still scarce, and it'll be a while before the new stores open and Kentucky gets its first taste of "Pub Subs" and other offerings from the massive southeastern U.S. grocery chain. But the move is still a notable development for Louisville's grocery scene, and worth a closer look.

Here are a few things to know about Publix's venture into the Bluegrass State, and what to expect moving forward. The company broke ground on the development in Louisville on June 23, 2022.

When are Louisville's Publix stores opening?

A photo of a Publix store in Florida.
A photo of a Publix store in Florida.  

Let's cut right to the chase and get the most important question out of the way.

Don't cancel your next trip to Kroger or your preferred local grocery. Publix isn't expected to open its first Louisville store until the fourth quarter of 2023, according to a September release from the company, and the developers confirmed that timetable at the June groundbreaking.

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Developers behind the project plan to build the facility on a vacant plot of land at Terra Crossing Boulevard and Old Henry Road in eastern Jefferson County, near the University of Louisville Medical Center Northeast and Mercedes-Benz of Louisville and on a corner that also hosts a Speedway gas station and two other small shopping centers. The property is currently zoned as C-2 commercial.

Along with a grocery store, a Publix Liquors outlet will also be built on-site, according to the release, which will sell wine, beer, soft drinks and other options.

Ohio-based development firm Skilken Gold is behind the project, according to documents filed with Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services, along with architecture and design firm Gresham Smith. The land is owned by Louisville's DLP Real Estate.

Once it's open, the Publix store will occupy more than 55,000 square feet on the 10-acre property, with its facade facing Terra Crossing Boulevard. The facility will be about 30 feet tall, according to its filing application, with plans for a 238-space parking lot as well. Renderings of the store have not yet been publicly filed.

See also: Proposal would lessen property tax rates for all Louisville residents

In an announcement in December, the company revealed it plans to open a second store in Louisville in the first quarter of 2024, at the corner of Ballardsville Road and Brownsboro Road. This supermarket is also planned to occupy about 55,000 square feet, with a drive-thru pharmacy and adjacent liquor store.

Is a Publix Lexington Ky location a possibility?

Yes. The company announced in June 2022 plans to open a Lexington location in the fourth quarter of 2024. The store is set for the northwest corner of Man O' War Boulevard and Harrodsburg Road.

It will feature the same footprint and features as the Louisville locations.

In an interview with The Courier Journal, Publix Super Markets CEO Todd Jones said the employee-owned company plans future expansion in the Bluegrass State.

"There will be more," Jones said. "I don't know where they'll be, but there will be more."

Why Kentucky?

Kentucky will be the eighth state with a Publix, and Jones said expanding here was a natural extension of the company's footprint across the southeast.

"We're pretty calculated in what we do," he said. "Kentucky was a very nice contiguous state for us, from a geographic standpoint."

Jones added that the company has received "numerous customer letters" asking when the Florida-based grocery store would set up shop in Kentucky.

"So that's always a great lead indicator when people are asking you to please come serve the state that they live in," he said.

As for how Publix chose where to locate in Jefferson County, Jones said the company wanted to be where population is growing "because that's where the footprints are at," but he added Publix wouldn't rule out older neighborhoods.

"Sometimes it takes us a little longer to get into established areas. Doesn't mean we won't be there," he said. "We'll continue to look for sites in all of Kentucky."

Why is Publix opening in Louisville a big deal?

That's a fair question but be warned, do NOT let anyone from Florida hear you say that.

Publix has a fanatical following throughout the southeast, as the company says its "dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized among the top in the grocery business."

The sub-style sandwiches it serves are apparently among the finest cuisine money can buy, if you listen to fans of the grocery store, and its deli, soup bar and other in-house products have also drawn rabid support. Is that a little weird? Probably. But those products are a big reason Tuesday's announcement was treated like the biggest news of a generation.

You can count former Louisville basketball standout Ryan McMahon and one-time Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson - two Florida natives - as among the chain's fans.

Of course, the new Publix stores will face plenty of competition among other local grocery companies that have already established a presence in Louisville.

The city and surrounding region is currently home to about 40 Kroger and Jay C outlets, and other grocers such as Meijer, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Walmart are also common in Jefferson County. The Publix that's set to be built on Terra Crossing Boulevard is about two miles away from the nearest Kroger store, on La Grange Road.

Publix was founded in Winter Haven, Florida, in 1930, according to the company's history. Nearly 1,300 stores are now located in seven states across the southeast, with the planned Louisville locations set to stand as Kentucky's first Publix groceries.

Lucas Aulbach can be reached at laulbach@courier-journal.com, 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAulbach.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Publix in Louisville, KY: What to expect about upcoming grocery store

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