Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Grand Experience

LAist blogger Lindsay William-Ross captured me, buying my lunch at the grand opening of F&E Manhattan Beach store.

First of all, thank you F&E staff who kindly took this lowly blogger in for a morning of fun. From my contact all the way up to the folks running the show today. You guys did great!

For today's entry, I'm just going to cover MY experience in the store. Pictures, a more serious reporting, and my conversation with Simon Uwins about being "green" will have to be recapped in the next installments.

No whining! I know I'm keeping y'all in suspense here, but a girl can't just trek up to Manhattan Beach from the OC early in the morning, take a spectacular stumble in front of a hundred people, and work a full day of her day job, AND blog in details too. She just can't! ;-)

Anyway. I am still in shock from my little swan dive outside the store AND that F&E CEO Tim Mason gave a little shout out to me and the Temple during his speech.

But we'll get to that in a bit.

CLo and I rolled into Manhattan Beach a little early. Since our neighborhood stores were smaller, we were ooh-and-aahing over the size of the place. And the colors! It's really amazing what a little bit of paint can liven up the spot. I didn't notice it at first but then I looked up to find all the colors in the store. It does give you the subliminally warm and fuzzy feeling.

Then the trays of samples pastries, breakfast burritos, and cheese and crackers were passed. This one poor lady with a basket full of the little bottles of smoothies and juices for everyone to wash down the food with. (Poor girl. They could've given her a cart or something!) CLo and I went for the vegetarian breakfast burrito. It needs a little Tapatio (for non-ethnic folks, that's hot sauce) but otherwise it hits the spot.

Oh, and Mr. Mason, in case you're reading. On the Great Breakfast Burrito Debate, the Temple of Fresh&Easy is taking an official stand on keeping it vegetarian.

Okay. Moving on.

Like I said, I got to talk to Simon first, and then later on introduced to Tim. Both of them know about the Temple. Having the executives of global company knowing about your 10-hits a day (if that) blog, and knowing that this big company really values what we write here, just totally blows my mind.

A big company that does listen to the little people. I mean, who does that any more these days?

Oh yes. So at the opening speech, Tim introduced all the big names in the crowd like the Mayors of Manhattan Beach and El Segundo, and yada yada. To my surprise, at the end of that introduction, he looked right at me and told the crowd that OakMonster from the Temple blog is here.

Holy crap.

He's talking about ME!

I just kind of looked around and did this sheepish little wave.

Idiot, yelled this little voice in my head. I kind of agreed there. Heh.

Soon after that, we were herded back outside where the crowd awaited for the ribbon cutting, along with a handful of protesters.

Since there was nothing set up outside yet for the ribbon cutting, I started walking back toward the store, scanning the crowd for CLo, who was actually still inside the store. My eyes were actually on the crowd when I apparently stepped off the planter curb onto the actual walkway.

And I munched it.

However, I munched it pretty gracefully as my hands were firmly holding (and protecting) my Nikon D40 and I ended up sitting sideway on the floor, modestly in my little summer dress.

Two people helped me up. I got the giggles. Once on my feet, I just looked out at the crowd staring at me. I raised my hand, addressed everyone and no one in particular, "Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week," and then turned and walked briskly back inside.

*sigh* Can't take me anywhere.

I came back out later and joined a row of photographers for the ribbon cutting photo ops. (I missed the check to charity part. Couldn't get around from where I stood.) Then I ran back inside to grab CLo and then a lunch (Shepard's Pie). I found CLo approaching the check out.

But then there was this commotion to my right. This lady was officially the first customer at the Manhattan Beach store.

CLo was about 3 steps behind that lady. She's a little bummed about that. Haha.

With a big bag filled with some groceries and our lunches, CLo and I headed back to the car. The lines were out the door, literally. People were waiting to get inside. Some with their carts already pre-packed with the drinking water which is on special deal.

We spotted Simon in the parking lot with two cookies buckets in his hands, struggling to keep one from toppling over while trying to open another one. He was feeding the crowd waiting outside to get in. He offered us some cookies for the road and thanked us for coming by.

Here is one of F&E executives, the head honcho, out in the hot California sun in all black, happily handing out cookies to and making conversations with customers.

If that doesn't give you a sense of a neighborhood store, I don't know what does.

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