By Donna Cornelius
One of Crestline’s most popular residents is coming back to the neighborhood.
The new Piggly Wiggly supermarket in the Mountain Brook community has an anticipated opening date of May 31, company officials said.
Owners Andy Virciglio and brothers Basim and Naseem Ajlouny hoped to re-open in Crestline Village after they had to shut down their store at the corner of Euclid Street and Oak Street in November 2014 because the landlord chose not to renew their lease. Piggly Wiggly had been tenants there for 30 years. A CVS/Pharmacy has since opened at that location.
The newly built store is in the heart of Crestline Village between Church Street and Vine Street.
“We were fortunate to be able to find this property,” Naseem Ajlouny said. “We’ve had good support from the city, from the board of education and school system and from residents. People were there to support us.”
The old Crestline Pig didn’t go quietly before closing. A Facebook page called “Save the Pig” quickly earned thousands of “likes,” and community members gathered at the Emmet O’Neal Library to share memories of the store.
“Community support has been humbling,” Ajlouny said. “They needed and wanted this store to come back.”
Opening a new store in Crestline hasn’t been easy. The owners first had to find a location. Ajlouny said they worked with Mountain Brook resident Robert Jolly of Retail Specialists.
“Robert put up a map, and I saw six or seven lots in a row and said, ‘Robert, start working on it,’” Ajlouny said. “Miller and Frances Gorrie were a big part of helping make this happen, too. They helped chart the course.”
The owners ended up buying seven lots. On one of the parcels was a building known as the Girl Scout Hut, which the owners renovated and moved to a nearby lot.
Construction was underway when an intentionally set fire on Jan. 11 temporarily halted progress. Four juveniles were identified and questioned about the fire shortly after that.
Now, however, a new and improved version of The Pig is ready to rejoin the Crestline community.
With 28,250 square feet, the new store is about 1½ times larger than the old store, company officials said. It’s also got more parking spaces, outdoor tables and energy-efficient LED lighting inside and out.
The building, with architecture that borrows from elements of residential construction, has two levels. The supermarket is on the main floor; storage and offices are upstairs.
Shoppers will find an emphasis on local and regional and organic products and more prepared foods, the owners said.
“We’ve made great strides in identifying for shoppers what’s organic, what’s non-GMO, what’s gluten-free and what’s local,” Andy Virciglio said.
The store will have Red Diamond coffee, tea and espresso machines, a milkshake machine and a salad bar.
Company officials said the store’s meat case is twice as large as any in other Piggly Wiggly stores. Customers will find Alabama Gulf Seafood products, Certified Angus Beef and fresh, locally raised chickens.
The store will have one of the largest craft beer selections in the state and an expanded wine section. Wine barrels were cut in half to decorate the wine bar, where customers can taste beer and wine or have consultations with staff members about selections. Growlers with the Piggly Wiggly logo will be for sale there, too.
“We’re taking extra attention to grow the wine section just as we have the craft beer section,” Basim Ajlouny said.
The store will host beer and wine tastings, and an enhanced cheese section is right next to the beer and wine.
The owners said they have scheduled deliveries outside of school hours since one of the store’s neighbors is Crestline Elementary.
Naseem Ajlouny thinks customers will like the store’s new location, which is close to Mountain Brook City Hall and right next door to Smith’s Variety, which moved to Crestline Village from Mountain Brook Village last year.
“CVS is the only national store in Crestline,” Ajlouny said. “Everything else is locally owned.”
He said that after the old Piggly Wiggly closed, he and the other owners were eager to re-open in Crestline as soon as possible.
“People get in shopping patterns,” he said. “We had to find a way to do it.”
Ajlouny said that the Virciglio family has been in Crestline’s business community for about 37 years.
“We’ve brought in Andy’s two sons, Austin and Andrew,” he said.
The Crestline Pig will continue to be active in and supportive of its neighborhood, Ajlouny said.
“We are a big community store,” he said. “You can’t help but have a community store because of how strong the community is here. That just doesn’t happen anywhere.”
While shoppers likely will be eager to see what the new Pig has to offer, many were concerned about another issue.
“People have asked if we’re going to bring back this person or that person who worked at the other store,” Ajlouny said. “I was able to hire the original manager, Ron Mitchell. You’ll see lots of familiar faces from the old store.”