The much-awaited Seafood City Supermarket in Winnipeg finally opened its doors for business on Thursday morning, November 28. Located in the space formerly occupied by Sears inside the Garden City Shopping Centre, this is only the second branch to open in Canada, following the Mississauga store which started operating in 2017.
The event drew hundreds of Winnipeggers to line up as early as 5 a.m. inside the mall’s hallway, eagerly waiting to enter the popular Filipino supermarket. Most in the lineup were excited to be among the first 200 customers who will get to buy a 15-lb bag of premium rice for only $1. Others were giddy about feasting on their favourite Filpino dishes at the three fast food eateries inside: Crispy Town which offers deep-fried delights like crispy pata and bagnet; Grill City which serves up foot-long pork barbecue skewers and grilled tilapia, among many others; and Filipino soups and broths like La Paz Batchoy or Wonton Mami served hotpot style by Noodle Street.
Two days before the grand opening, members of the press and social media personalities which included this writer, were invited to a Media Night hosted by Seafood City Marketing Director Red Smith and 204 Live FM’s JP Sumbillo. Guests each received tote bags filled with assorted food items bearing the Pamana imprint, the company’s store brand. After a brief orientation by Smith about the evening’s proceedings, the group then savoured a complimentary supper by ordering their choice of dishes from all the eateries. This was followed by an aisle-by-aisle tour of the grocery section guided by Smith herself.
As the group reached the fresh seafood section, Smith was proud to show off the area. “Here we have a selection of fish and other seafood that one doesn’t typically see in a mainstream store. In addition, customers can buy their fish here, have it cleaned and even cooked for a nominal charge per pound. That way, you don’t have to cook the fish at home which gives your house a fishy smell,” said Smith.
The grocery tour wrapped up at the Produce section, with Smith clarifying that the goal of Seafood City is not to cater just to Filipinos, but to get into the hearts and bellies of all Winnipeggers. “Celebrating true Filipino goodness is what we want to spread and share with the world.”
Speaking with Smith after the tour, she remarked how the company has come a long way from its first-ever location in National City, California. “After steadily growing to 28 stores in California, Washington, Hawaii, Illinois and Nevada, Seafood City Supermarket is now known in North America as the leading one-stop market, shopping, dining and retail hub catering to the Asian/ Filipino lifestyle. We’re excited to spread the celebration of true Filipino goodness with stores opening in Calgary and Scarborough, ON soon!”
Kris Ontong is the past president of the Southeast Manitoba Filipino Association (SEMFA), and is an awardee at the 2019 National Filipino-Canadian Heritage Event for his active role in the Filipino community.
Photos by Noni Manalili and Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal