NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The new Berkley Supermarket in Norfolk opened its doors to shoppers Thursday morning.

An enthusiastic crowd was gathered for the grand opening event, ready to pick up fresh produce, fresh meats, herbs, spices, and delicious seafood, including head and tail fresh fish that is cleaned on the spot.

(Photo courtesy: Regina Mobley)

This day, more than two years in the making, turned into a photo-op of sustenance history as residents such as Marva Lawson shared the opening live to their friends and relatives on Facebook.

“It means a lot; it’s been a long time coming because we need something like this in this community,” said Lawson as she briefly interrupted her live presentation for an interview with 10 On Your Side.

Following the closure of a Farm Fresh store, at the peak of the pandemic, this entire community had to drive to another city to reach the closest supermarket. Others relied on fresh contributions that were often handed out in parking lots.

Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander and other city officials were on hand for the grand opening, which also included COVID-19 vaccinations. Nurse Melody Parker has coordinated vaccination efforts around Norfolk. She is concerned as vaccination hesistancy lingers in the African-American Community.

“The rates for vaccination is about 18 to 20% across the vaccination clinics, so we are very concerned with that,” said Parker who is one of the city’s Trusted Partners in the community.

Store owner, former Navy man Mike Palmer, has invested more than $5 million in the grocery store and the shopping center. The City of Norfolk will kick in a grant worth a half million dollars. Palmer, a successful restaurateur, says failure is not an option. Palmer currently operates several soul food style restaurants and is opening a sister restaurant inside the supermarket. His specialties include turkey wings, chops, collards and macaroni & cheese.

“That, I think, is what is going to bring the people here, even more than the grocery, that’s how good the food is,” said Palmer.

(Photo courtesy: Regina Mobley)