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The new Harmons grocery opened in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday to a mix of the curious and those who were taking advantage of the convenience of having a big store nearby.

Although no big lines formed for the 9 a.m. opening, a steady flow of shoppers made their way through in the first hour, including construction workers taking a break from the City Creek development.By noon, the number of shoppers spiked, with an estimated 2,400 people stopping in to eat lunch, creating standing-room only space for a period of hours at the delicatessen and adjacent areas.

The store at 100 S. 135 East is built on two levels. A 50,000-square-foot ground space features a large produce department and meat counter with fresh fish. On the 18,000-square-foot mezzanine there is a deli with a seating capacity for about 300 customers.

"I've been counting the days for this opening," said shopper Jan Deguilio, who lives downtown. "The store is beautiful — perfect. I'm excited."

Stacy Paget, who shops at the much larger Harmons supermarket in Farmington, said she was surprised that the downtown store was so spacious.

"This doesn't have the feel of a smaller, urban grocery store. I also like the parking garage. When the weather is bad, it's nice to walk directly into the store."

Said shopper Chris Bennion: "The selection is large. And it's great to have a store in the downtown area. It's good for the city, and it's convenient for me."

The debut of the Harmons City Creek store is a prelude to the opening of the $1.2 billion City Creek development that is being spearheaded by the real estate development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Harmons City Creek, just off the eastern edge of the giant office-residential-retail project, is the state's first large grocery store in a downtown business district.

Brothers Bob and Randy Harmon, who run the grocery chain bearing their family's name, are counting on the redevelopment of the downtown area to give rise to a strong residential customer base for their new store.

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