Before he was a Maryland legislator, Del. Joe Boteler was a struggling college student in need of a job. He turned to the grocery store on Loch Raven Boulevard.
"I remember back then it was a great place to work for. It was good pay, the people there were like family, and we had a good time at night—especially when the supervisors weren't around," Boteler said, after praising the 100 jobs created by the new
His statement was one of many shared during the Giant's grand opening "Premiere Night" on Thursday. Considering its setting—the produce department of a grocery store—the event was, at times, sentimental.
Following the singing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," general manager Ray Cameron spoke about "coming home" to the store. Cameron was raised in the Perry Hall area, but most recently managed a store in Annapolis.
"I've enjoyed this more than any other project I've done. It's been a reunion for me," Cameron said.
Del. Eric Bromwell added his passionate endorsement of the store. "This is my grocery store. I don't even remember my first time in a Giant. I've been coming here since I was a kid," he said.
"This is long awaited and we're just so glad to have you here," said State Sen. Kathy Klausmeier.
"This is the supermarket where my family will probably shop and you have the best salad bar of anyone around," said .
Marks thanked Kimco Realty, the management company for , which has been hit hard with vacancies in recent years.
The former Superfresh closed in July 2011, leaving the center without an anchor tenant. Over the past year, Marks has pushed for a county-sponsored over the area and other "downtown" initiatives.
"There are some great things going on in downtown Perry Hall because of Kimco Realty and now Giant Food ... every community should have a downtown where there are a variety of restaurants and businesses to frequent. This is a part of Perry Hall that has that," Marks said.
The opening also included a donation of $2,500 in Giant gift cards to the , accepted by director Margaret Hubbard and Pastor Vic Harner.
"Tremendously, it impacts our ability to have food there to help people. I have a limited budget and the bulk of it goes toward Thanksgiving and Christmas. Anytime I can get any donations, it really makes a big help," Hubbard said.
"Just last month, I didn't know if we'd have enough food. I said, 'The Lord will provide,'" she added.
Shoppers also joined in the festivities, including live jazz and free samples.
Rose and Rich Weber said they regularly travel from their home in Chase to Perry Hall, where the selection is better—within a six-mile radius, the community also has , a , a and an independently-owned .
"The layout is very nice. We'll probably shop here again," Rose Weber said. "We come to the Outback around the corner and other restaurants as well, all the time."
See photos in the above gallery.