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The Secrets Out, Zion opens!

By JB Blocker Tues. Aug. 27th
he said, say Kimchee!
I knew that Kyu Hwang, the founder of the San Diego based Korean grocery chain was determined to open the new Zion Market at Music City Mall in record time. What most expected to take up to 8 months or more after a late start was preparing to open in less than 6 months. He pronounced a date that seemed implausible. Tuesday, August 27th!
Since the day they bought the former Sears, I have seen the concept as it closed in on reality. I knew that it would take a miracle to make that date. I work with The Way, the local property developer.
This is a soft opening. It is not publicly announced. I didn’t know what to expect. So, I waited to go until 3 to give them time. As I pull south of J.C. Penny on the east side of the mall, I see the old Sears. There is still a construction zone.
The grocers parking lot is full! There isn't even a Sign! That will be installed on Wednesday.
As I pull in to the grocery parking people are leaving with bags of produce, carts filled with white Zion bags. 
Inside, I see several aged Asian women and men are courteously filling their carts with greens and melons and fruits. There are many couples of all ages, and of the tapestry of American Asians. People are wandering the wide aisles. The lighting well planned. My first impression is wow this is better than I expected.
I see the refrigerated mushroom space. They have All Kinds of Mushrooms! 10, 11? More. This makes me happy.
It’s like that all up and down the large produce bins that serve up an amazing world of roots and leaves and fruits and such. You can see a largely undeveloped area as you enter the back-east entry that follows around to the mall entry.
You know, there’s a twist of irony there. Sears is leaving large block shops behind. The ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ generation of American Asians are young adults with children. The grandparents like me who came to America in our youth and were raised on patriotism and person pride are well established businessmen and community activist. This demographic is replacing Sears! They are proud Texas American Asians.
I consider myself a Texan and a Patriot first! My 1/2 Asian roots are combined with Brittain, France, and Germany.  Heck, I’ve worn a Stetson since my teens and have been an ambassador for ‘When East Meets West’ since a became a citizen at age 9. It took roots when we moved to Dumas, Texas for 5th grade.

Food will bring people together in ways that politics, religion, and music cannot achieve.
By becoming part of Music City Mall, the Zion Market becomes a place where all cultures can explore each other's worlds. Asians from Russia to Turkey, India to Indonesia, the many exotic island and peninsula countries that lead to China. These cultures of the ages will come to the mall because of Zion's fresh produce department.
You must meet Angelica. I saw her pushing her cart and tipped my hat and said hello. She gave me a surprised smile and her voice told me, ‘she ain’t from around here’! I had to know.
‘Where are you from Angelica? Ukraine! By way of Roanoke! She moved to Lewisville 6 months ago. Angelica tells me she is so excited. She read a story about it and she’s been reading all the articles. It happened to be my story. Zion Jackpot
I ask her why she is so excited. Angelica says that cooking all kinds of fresh foods gives her pleasure. She watches cooking shows! She is a foodie of the Julia Child generations who is watching the food channels now.
She lets me take a picture and we hug. Angelica giggles!

So, what’s the point! That’s the point. The little older Asian couples were everywhere as were Brown, Black, White, mixed, rainbow..... This little Ukrainian lady came by herself. Foodies will start coming here. The parking lots will fill daily around the Asian Center. People from all the cultural food world will be visiting a traditional mall…get this…weekly or sooner…regularly. Their friends and family will more readily attend a movie, shop Macy’s and Penny’s, buy technology, SHOP!
Many will learn to walk the mall for exercise because of climate control. They will people watch for their amusement. They will come with their children and teens. By the holidays, the mall will have a whole new market. They will come for the love of cooking fresh food and shop along the way. I know that’s a bold prediction, but I feel I’m on solid ground here.
Foodies will be lured in by a vast display of sauces, beans, rice (I want to say rices, but this computer doesn’t like it as much as I do). There are your noodles for every kind of Asian dish, green things, live swimming things, and the seasonings and spices that Kroger’s friends don’t carry.
Mr. Hwang as brought grocer managers from his 7 other Zions.  Dozens of white-clad butchers and other staff were brought in from San Diego and L.A. 
Many are cleanly and efficiently trimming, cutting, packaging a variety of meats before your eyes. Today the meat displays are as empty as the bank of aquariums from the seafood market. I wouldn’t be surprised if, within the next day or two, you’ll be looking at the final process with full displays.
There will be a lot of hiring going on progressively! The U.S. has seen nothing like what I believe is going to happen.
All of this is the brainchild of a 17 year Lewisville resident and his partners. They turned a near Ghetto on its very last legs into a Carrollton success story. The Way Management Company is directed by Richard Kang. His associates led the way to the successful reinvigoration of the George Bush and Old Denton Rd. Asian centers.
They will also manage the 70,000 square foot second floor at Zion Market Center and other dining venues.
The City of Lewisville's leadership saw the potential. Their Council, Economic Development, and Marketing department have been enthusiastically supportive. To make this date a reality, it took a lot of cooperation and timely interaction among the different city departments. Without their attentiveness, we would be months away from an opening.

There is a 20 ft. wide walkway between the Zion's bank of cash registers and the empty and unfinished future tenant spaces. These empty spaces circle the grocer and lead to the mall entry. They will be occupied by professional services, hair and makeup, treats, and a bank. 
The mall entry is not open today. But I am heading over 24 hours later to see what has happened. 
- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962.

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