There’s big news at the Strack & Van Til Food Market in St. John. The recently renovated store at 9825 Wicker Ave. celebrated its Grand Opening this past week.

Besides creating more contemporary surroundings, the renovation allowed the store to offer more products, including new items that are popular and on-trend.

For instance, customers will be greeted by the fresh floral department that was remodeled and moved to the front of the store.

“This invites customers in to a colorful, wonderful smelling and cheerful environment,” said Floral Department Director Jen Knoche. “We already received more special orders than ever before now that customers see us upfront.”

The Floral Department includes wedding, school dance, recital and funeral arrangements, and more. Plus, customers can place their orders online for pickup or delivery.

Bob Hylka, director of produce, is especially excited about and proud of the new “Pinabar” self-service pineapple machine debuting in the Produce Department.

“Coring a pineapple is pretty difficult, so we made it easier,” he said. “Customers choose a pineapple and the machine peels and cores it in 20 seconds, at the touch of a button. You can’t get any fresher than that.”

More space is devoted to fruit packs in a variety of sizes. A new Grab and Go destination case features pre-cut fruit bowls and pre-cut veggies, such as riced cauliflower, veggie noodles and asparagus tips for healthier meal alternatives.

The St. John store features expanded meal solutions in the Deli and the Meat and Seafood Department.

In addition to delicious Deli favorites (sliders, chili, wings, rib tips, pizzas and Our Famous Fried or Grilled chicken), there are new items to tantalize your taste buds.

“If you’re in a hurry, the Deli’s Grab and Go meats, cheeses or meals made easy in individual or family sizes are perfect,” said Deli Director Kristin Snow. “They’re ready to take and bake, or heat and serve in minutes.

“Our latest Deli department addition is prime rib with a twice-baked potato and a vegetable blend,” she added.

Other new options include subs, wraps, torpedo sandwiches or Conewiches shaped like ice cream cones, perfect for eating on the go.

For a quick way to put dinner on the table, don’t forget the Meat and Seafood Department’s Meal Solutions Made Easy, including made fresh daily Quick and Easy Take & Bake Meals, Steamable Bags and Crock Pot Packs.

Choose from a variety of beef, pork, chicken, Italian Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Garlic Mushrooms, Gourmet Meatballs, Stuffed Bell Peppers and Meat Loaf Take & Bake Meals.

“Prefer steaming over baking? Just microwave Strack & Van Til’s Steamable Bags with fish, chicken and pork for 4 to 5 minutes and they’re ready to eat,” said Meat and Seafood Department Director Gary Teachman.

Select from Steamable Bags such as Salmon and Vegetables, Seasoned Tilapia with Vegetables or Seasoned Shrimp with Rice, as well as Seasoned Boneless Chicken Breast with Vegetables or Rice and Seasoned Boneless Pork Chop with Vegetables or Rice.

Strack & Van Til Crock Pot Packs are available in three varieties: Certified Angus Beef brand Pot Roast, Smithfield Prime Pork Butt and Hand Trimmed Boneless Chicken Breast.

“Place the ingredients in your crock pot in the morning, add water, stir and let dinner make itself,” said Teachman.

Meatless alternatives and plant-based meats are part of the expanded meatless and vegan section. In the meat case next to the ground beef, you’ll find Beyond Burgers and Sausage, or Light Life Burgers, Sausage and ground “beef.”

By popular demand, the St. John Strack & Van Til broadened its natural organic selections, added an extensive gluten-free section and integrated the organic products with the “regular” items.

“We put organic versions next to the conventional items to make our customers’ lives easier,” said Center Store Sales Manager Tom Steliga. “We also added a dedicated vegan section, which combines multiple departments.”

The Dairy Department now has a wide range of organic and lactose-free milks, and there’s an area devoted to organic and natural ice cream and gelato.

The St. John Strack & Van Til added a section dedicated to the keto diet to help make selecting items easier for those following the regimen, Steliga explained.

“We expanded our local craft beer offerings and adjusted our wine assortment to enhance customers’ overall shopping experience,” said Sales Manager Mike Nisevich.

Visit the newly remodeled St. John store and see what Strack & Van Til is doing to make people’s lives easier.