Sayers Foods in Apsley reopens almost 40 months after a devastating fire

New store features a deli and cafe, in addition to grocery items
Sayers Foods is a full-service independent grocery store that has served North Kawartha township residents and visitors for more than 45 years. Photography via Sayers Foods/Facebook

It has been a long 40 months. For Apsley's Jeff Sayers, the past three and a half years have, at times, felt more like a decade. But there's light at the end of the tunnel.

After a fire in December 2020 destroyed his family’s business, the only grocery store in North Kawartha Township, Sayers Foods is unveiling its brand-new store at 132 Burleigh Street in Apsley rebuilt at the same location as the original store with a “soft opening” today (March 25).

kawarthaNOW briefly caught up with Jeff, Sayers Foods' co-owner, about how he was feeling prior to the soft opening.

"It's definitely a big relief, but the relief is not to be confused with the end of the journey," Jeff said.

"It's a relief to be past the hurdles that we've overcome to be able to open, but there's months of work left to finish the store to 100% completion, including getting all of the services online that we have planned." 

Sayers Foods is a full-service independent grocery store that has served North Kawartha township residents and visitors for more than 45 years. The township has around 2,300 year-round residents and around 12,000 seasonal residents.

Since 1976, the Sayers family and their supermarket have been part of the fabric of Apsley first as Sayers General Store before becoming an IGA, a Foodland, and then, in 2017, Sayers Independent Food Town. 

That changed in the early morning hours of December 5, 2020, when an electrical fire at the back of the store swept through the building, leaving local residents without a grocery store. 

Jeff co-owns and manages the store with his siblings Barb and Rick. His parents are semi-retired, but they will have an office in the new building.

Jeff said he hopes to hold a big grand opening in late spring, with participation expected from the store's suppliers and the store's online ordering system up-and-running.

The past 40 months have encompassed numerous processes that needed to be followed insurance paperwork, consultants, an appraisal, and some construction material delays but walking away from the grocery store business wasn't an option, Jeff said.

"This is our way of life," he earlier told kawarthaNOW.  "The community definitely needs a grocery store."

In addition to the supermarket essentials, the new Sayers Foods which has increased square footage in the store portion will have an expansive deli, which will encompass ready-to-go meals and a pick-up window. 

There will also be a café with seasonal outdoor seating and Wi-Fi and power outlets.

Jeff said he expects to have between 30 and 50 employees when the store is open and running at full capacity.

"Not everything will be ready but we're so excited to reach this milestone and bring fresh food back into proper supply in our community," Sayers Foods announced on its Facebook page on March 18, adding that remaining challenges include rewiring the hot deli cases and getting approval for a secondary entrance that leads directly to the deli cafe and bakery.

"The grand opening will be sometime in the spring," the post reads. "We'll celebrate then when everything is 100 per cent complete. For now, we're just focused on getting this store open nearly 40 months after the fire."

The Facebook post about the store's long-awaited opening has generated more than 790 reactions, 210 shares, and 140 comments.

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