Robért to make extensive renovations to 2 Matherne’s stores _lowres

Photo provided by ROBERT FRESH MARKET -- The interior of a Robért Fresh Market was incorporated into the New Orleans-based grocery chain's plans to acquire two Matherne's Supermarkets in Baton Rouge.

The Matherne’s Supermarkets on Highland Road and Bluebonnet Boulevard in Baton Rouge will change hands over the next three months and undergo extensive renovations to rebrand them as Robért Fresh Markets.

Mark Robért III, general manager of the New Orleans-based supermarket chain, said a deal is in place to purchase the store at 7355 Highland Road during the last week in February and the store at 7580 Bluebonnet Blvd. during the last week in April. The sale dates are contingent on Robért getting liquor licenses and occupancy permits for the stores in time.

“We’re excited to be in the Baton Rouge market, and we’re eager to learn more about it,” he said. “We want to make sure we cater to the needs of the customers there.”

Both of the stores will undergo three to six months of renovations to convert them to Robért Fresh Markets. The plan is to keep the stores open while the work is going on and to wrap up the work on Highland by the fall.

The new stores will have more of an emphasis on prepared foods and grab-and-go sandwiches and sushi. There also will be an expanded offering of high-end cheeses and charcuterie.

“All of the perishable sections will be expanded,” Robért said. “The floral section will be expanded; produce will be expanded.”

While Robért plans to add more prepared and organic products, the stores will continue to carry all basic commodity offerings.

Employees at the Matherne’s stores will be interviewed and have fair opportunities to retain their jobs, Robért said.

Robért Fresh Market, which was founded in 1994 in Metairie, has eyed the Baton Rouge market for a while. In 2008, the State Bond Commission approved GoZone bond money to build a location at Perkins Road and Acadian Thruway. But the store was never built, and a Trader Joe’s supermarket ended up on the site.

Robért Fresh Market had six locations in metro New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. It now has two stores in New Orleans and one in Metairie.

Matherne’s will retain a store in downtown Baton Rouge, along with locations in LaPlace and Paulina.

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