After Years of Planning, Anabel’s Grocery Set to Open Sunday

Starting Sunday, the trek to the grocery store may no longer involve the TCAT for Cornellians.

A project more than two and a half years in the making, Anabel’s Grocery will be opening its doors to students this Sunday, allowing students to complete their grocery shopping on campus in its newly renovated location on the first floor of Anabel Taylor Hall.

Anabel’s will be open to Cornell students exclusively: undergraduates, graduates and professional students.

From its conception more than two years ago, the opening of Anabel’s is an attempt to tackle the mounting issue of food insecurity on college campuses — a problem which Joshua Miller ’17, human resources director, said is often left unsolved.

“A huge underserved population is students on college campuses who are food insecure,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of literature saying that it exists, but there’s few solutions being developed and [Anabel’s] is kind of novel.”

Following its opening on Sunday, Anabel’s will be asking students to fill out a survey, created by the USDA, to determine eligibility for a 10 percent discount provided to students who are food-insecure. This discount will begin to be applied after students complete the survey.

The price-point set for products, Miller said, is similar to the prices offered at Aldi, Anabel’s “model and benchmark of what a relatively cheap grocery store,” Miller said.

Anders Izumi '18, a member of the design and fabrication team, addresses the opening day of Anabel's.

Anders Izumi Evenson ’18, a member of the design and fabrication team, addresses the opening day of Anabel’s.

Because Anabel’s is not a Cornell Dining location, students will not be able to use BRB’s to make purchases. However, Anabel’s will accept Cornell card.

Upon opening, Anabel’s plans to sell a combination of fresh produce food, packaged and canned goods, and staple items for cooking and baking, according to Kerry Mullins ’18, co-director. Anabel’s will additionally offer free recipes to students in the store to encourage students to cook their own meals.

The goal of their products is to offer “accessible food that you’re going to walk into a store and understand the ingredients there and be comfortable buying and also preparing for yourself,” said Adam Shelepak ’17, co-director.

While Anabel’s aspires to fill a niche category of affordable and nutritious food on campus, Mullins and Shelepak stressed that cost remains their primary concern.

“We’re not always going to be selling organic options, we’re not always going to be selling local, we’re not always going to be selling fair-trade,” Mullins said. “Not because we don’t think those things are important but just because Anabel’s mission is really focused around accessibility and making sure that everyone is able to buy things out of the store.”

Shelepak noted that despite certain perceptions of Anabel’s, accessibility is their main goal.

“That’s an interesting misbranding Anabel’s has received before. … People assume that we would be local, organic, sustainable — [that’s] not necessarily true,” Shelepak said. “Cost is our primary factor that we’re going for. We’re looking to provide accessibility that is not always easy on campus.”

The store was first supposed to open in the fall of 2015, but was delayed several times largely due to budgetary concerns and construction issues associated with renovating Anabel Taylor Hall, according to Alexandra Donovan ’18, project coordinator.

With the setbacks in renovations and delays in store opening, initiatives such as the pop-up store in November have been put on by Anabel’s as a temporary preview in anticipation of the store, Miller said.

“Any frustrations and setbacks are also shared among our team and our members because we understand the need for a grocery store on campus,” Miller said. “We’re trying to be accommodating, that’s why we’ve done things like the pop-up store and to try to get people a sense of what’s going to be available at this store.”

Mullins noted that the delays are not unfamiliar to Cornell or to construction projects in general.

“In terms of renovation timelines for Cornell, this is very much so within the norm, even moving quicker than normal,” Mullins said.” While it might seem like it’s been delayed over and over and [like it’s] not going to happen, compared to a lot of other renovations of this scale, here this is moving at breakneck speed.”

“In the grand scheme of things, two years is a very short time from conception to opening day,” Mullins added. “From the idea of a store to opening a store — it’s been about three years now — that’s really, really fast.”

The opening day for Anabel’s will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. However, regular store hours will be 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

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