ELLSWORTH — When you think of a gas station, you probably don’t think of ordering a smoothie with kale, banana, grapes, apple juice, goji berries and flax seeds.
But at R.H. Foster’s new gas station, convenience store and Freshies deli on the corner of Elm and High streets in Ellsworth, that’s just one of the many custom smoothie options available to customers.
“This store is the first pilot of this quantum shift that we’re making within our company,” said Robert Tracy, R.H. Foster’s executive vice president, during a tour of the new store that opened July 21.
In addition to smoothies, there also is a variety of salads and sandwiches (there are both pre-packaged “Grab and Go” or made-to-order options), along with the more standard convenience store fare of pizza, breakfast sandwiches and whoopie pies.
Even among those favorites, however, there are new choices. Pizza selections, for example, include fig and prosciutto and brie and spinach.
Robert Foster, president of R.H. Foster, elaborated on what Tracy said.
“Our focus is going to be fresh, healthy food,” he said, because the company knows more and more customers are looking for that. He said it is often hard to find healthy food to grab when you are on the go, and the company wants to make it easier for people to access it.
The new store is 4,170 square feet in size, a dramatic increase over the 954-square-foot store that was torn down earlier this year. The new store features two cash registers and two large bathrooms, an improvement over the old store, where the bathroom was outside the building.
Among the other unexpected offerings inside the store are wine and Maine products such as maple syrup, honey and jellies. A large, chilled beer cave — company officials said it is the largest in Ellsworth, and that it alone rivals the size of the former store — offers a wide variety of beers, including several varieties from Atlantic Brewing Co. in Bar Harbor.
Underscoring the sense of place is a large photo of the Union River that hangs on one of the walls in the store.
Tracy and Foster both said the company intends to use the new Ellsworth store as a model for future store replacement or renovation projects, starting first with the store at the corner of State Street and Broadway in Bangor this fall.
The plan for the new store generated some controversy late last year and early this year, as history buffs voiced concerns about an old Catholic cemetery that was located near where the company’s project was taking place.
Surveys found no evidence of graves in the area where the work was being done. Code Enforcement Officer Dwight Tilton said he monitored the project as it progressed and that there were no issues with graves.