Loblaw Companies Limited has transformed the famed Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto — an iconic Canadian landmark and former home of one of the most famous hockey arenas in North America — into the ultimate upscale supermarket destination. Massive in scope and ambition, the 85,000-sq.-ft. store more than lives up to its billing as “Toronto’s new crown jewel of food stores.”
Made up of specialty markets and differentiated food concepts, the new Loblaws offers shoppers an array of option, with food taking center stage. A few of the highlights include the Wall of Cheese, an 18-ft. display that showcases 400 varieties; an East-meets-West Sushi bar combining traditional fare and modern chef-inspired creations; a tea emporium with over 100 flavors of tea; a bakery with its own in-house oven; an Asian grocery section; and aisles upon aisles of fresh and frozen, prepared and raw foods. Fishmongers and butchers are on hand to assist customers. Shoppers can also purchase meals prepared daily by the store’s 14 in-house chefs in an open elevated kitchen.
In other services, the store features a walk-in medical clinic. An in-store dietician is available to help customers decode and understand food labels.
The second floor of the store is home to the company’s Joe Fresh apparel brand. The 8,500-sq.-ft. Joe Fresh shop features women’s and men’s apparel, accessories, cosmetics, jewelry and sleepwear. The second floor also features an LCBO liquor store and Loblaw’s President's Choice Cooking School, which offers everything from demonstrations to cooking classes to a Dine with the Chef program.
Equally impressive as the food offerings is the care and detail that went into the renovation and design of the historic space. Designed by Landini Associates, Sydney, Australia, the interior is striking, with bold graphics, stainless steel and blond wood grain surfaces, glossy black tile and a vibrant red and orange floor inspired by the colors from the original Loblaws logo.
The modern elements are combined with references to the Gardens’ history and its past glories, including a wall sculpture created from the arena’s old blue chairs that have been melded together in the shape of a giant blue maple leaf. And in a direct nod to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a red circle on the floor designates the former location of center ice. The columns in the store are adorned with images and text of the Gardens’ most famous events and celebrations. Past triumphs are also commemorated in photographs displayed on cafe tables and on wall murals.