KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A year ago, the Cosentino’s Downtown Market, the first full-size grocery store to serve the ever-expanding downtown population, was merely a concept. It wasn’t yet known how the reality would shake out.

New downtown Kansas City grocery store flourishing

Bob Luder

Cosentino's Downtown Market is the first full-size grocery store to serve the downtown Kansas City market.

Today, that reality is known, and the verdict is that the 33,000-square-foot space, located at the corner of 13th and Main, has thus far been a huge hit, from the 160-seat cafe just inside the south doors of the building to the enormous, 83-foot-long salad bar.

“We’ve performed better than expectations,” said Mark Lenz, the store’s director. “Our customer count has been the same since day one. I’d still like to see more people living downtown, but I think they’re coming.”

The store opened Jan. 6. Lenz said the crowds began storming in that day and have yet to let up.

“Our customer count is great,” said Tracy Nelson, produce director for Cosentino’s Food Stores. “We need more people shopping with us as families.”

The downtown Cosentino’s also has moved its fair share of produce. Produce displays take up a good portion of the front portion of the space, from display bins of fresh product to refrigerated displays of packaged and value-added product.

“Is our produce shopping good?” Nelson asked rhetorically. “Yes. Could it be better? You bet it could. But it’s been real steady from day one.”

Lenz said he estimated 70% to 75% of the store’s produce business is in fresh. Value-added is especially popular for urbanites on the move looking for a quick meal.

“Our value-added and juice are just phenomenal,” Nelson said. “We offer whole watermelon, but don’t sell it. It’s all cut. It’s what everyone is looking for down here.”

 Lenz and Nelson especially are proud of the store’s salad bar, which stretches nearly the entire length of the building. At 83 feet, Lenz said the builder, R&D Fixtures, told him it was the longest salad bar they’d ever constructed.

Lenz said the store also focuses on catering and has a wine club. It plans to start cooking classes at some point in the near future.

The store also has taken advantage of recent redevelopments in the downtown area, such as construction of the new Power & Light District and Sprint Center arena, which is just a block away from the store. Lenz said that while events at Sprint Center typically favor business at Power & Light, conventioneers at nearby refurbished Bartle Hall find their way into the store.

“It’s fun, it’s new, it’s just been great,” Lenz said.