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Fresh & Easy Manhattan Beach Store Open Today

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Fresh & Easy opened its 62nd US "neighborhood market" this morning in Manhattan Beach which began with a press conference and store tours and a ribbon cutting ceremony before the waiting crowds descended upon the grocery store to fill their carts. (More story after the jump!)

F&E has been the subject of scrutiny lately; from the customers who were displeased with the first stores' bland decor and who had trouble discerning the philosophy of the company (its parent is Tesco, the UK-based mega-grocer) to members of a strong opposition movement who are boycotting the stores to those speculating if a recent slow-down in growth was due to fledgling sales.

The resolve, however, of Fresh & Easy seems firm, and they stressed today the value of the input of their customers (through emails, in-store comment cards, and exit interviews) which helped steer them towards re-styling the stores somewhat to add warmth and to communicate their message of quality, value, and friendliness. Now the walls are bathed in warm colors with blurbs about their core company beliefs, such as "we believe in honest low prices" and signage in sections articulate their compliance with the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program, and their food's lack of trans fats. They've also upped the quantity of prepared foods available for purchase, as part of the 250 new items they've created since opening their first 5 stores here in November 2007.

In his remarks to the crowd today, Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason mentioned that their US stores "reflect literally the socially demographics of the neighborhoods" in which they are situated, and that many of their stores' employees live in the same neighborhood in which they work. He added that Fresh & Easy exists because "everyone--that means everyone"--wants high quality food at affordable prices available all in one store that's close to their home. Mason also announced that a Fresh & Easy will have a location in South Los Angeles, an area that is under-served in terms of fresh, healthy, and affordable food (and over-saturated with fast food).

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The next Fresh & Easy stores to open soon will be: Fountain Valley on July 16 and Pico Rivera on the 30th, with stores at Vanowen and Sepulveda and at Palos Verdes and Western, and in the City of Industry to open later this summer. You can use this map to find the location nearest you.

Please note that Fresh & Easy has a no-photography policy in its stores, and LAist took these images as part of the press event. A press rep for F&E explained that they prefer the employees to focus on serving customers and not on people taking pictures or trying to report on the stores. Don't be surprised if you're asked to put your camera away!