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Rowland: Word is British grocer is coming

British-owned grocery chain Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is once, twice, three times a maybe in Modesto.

The chain, backed by Britain's huge Tesco PLC, has leases for three new store locations throughout the city, according to sources. However, store openings are pending in light of Tesco's December announcement that it has delayed the launch of new stores indefinitely.

Fresh & Easy specializes in high-quality meats, fruits and vegetables, along with deli items, take-home meals and store brands. A location in Sylvan Square at Sylvan Avenue and Coffee Road previously was announced by the center's leasing company.

Another location in Oakmore Plaza at Briggsmore Avenue and Oakdale Road has been confirmed by Kari Ortloff-Evernven, the plaza's owners/manager, and Angel Polhemus of PMZ Commercial real estate.

A third site at Crows Landing Road and Whitmore Avenue has a sign that says, "Fresh & Easy — Coming soon!"

The Sylvan Square and Oakmore Plaza stores will take over the sites of previous grocers Michotti's Marketplace and Save Mart, respectively.

The south Modesto spot could be new construction. Currently the site has a small strip mall and Carl's Jr. restaurant.

Roberto Munoz, director of neighborhood affairs and communications at Fresh & Easy, said the company has not officially announced any of the locations in Modesto.

"It's still a little bit early in the process," he said. "We don't have an announced timeline."

Read about Fresh & Easy at

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Brides on a budget have a new place to shop.

Modesto's The Modern Bride, 2204 Sylvan Ave., opened last month at a former mattress store.

The shop is the first business for owner Heidi Bizzini, who teaches

seventh- and eighth-grade English at Modesto Christian School.

The Modesto resident said she opened the store because of her love and experience with weddings. She has been in 13 ceremonies for family and friends.

Bizzini took over the inventory from the Bridal Gallery when it closed. None of the dresses in her store cost more than $900, with the least expensive starting at $99.

"We're trying to keep it economical for the times we're in," she said. "It's high-end dresses for low prices."

The shop also sells accessories, does alterations and rents tuxedos.

Its hours are from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, or by special appointment. For more information, call 681-3058.

Have an item for Business Beat? Contact Marijke Rowland at The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352; 578-2284 or