Hyson said "long days and hard work" preceded the grand opening. Advance planning by him and Giant paid off with a soft opening that was anything but. So many people were waiting at the store earlier in the day that officials opened at 12:45 p.m, not 5 p.m, as originally planned.
City officials on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony included City Council PresidentBernard C. "Jack" Youngand 14th District City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke. MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blakehad a prior engagement, said Jamie Miller, spokesman for Giant Food.
And like a movie premiere, there were reviews for the new store, most of them rave reviews.
"So far, so good. I think I'm going to like this," said Magnolia Morris, 49, of Randallstown, as she shopped at the new Giant location.
Morris, who works at the People's Community Health Center in Charles Village, said the parking at the new location was better than the limited parking at the Rotunda store.
"I love it," said Stephanie Stockton, 34, of Medfield, a meeting planner, as she shopped with her 1-year-old daughter, Charlotte. "It's clean. It's fresh. I wanted a good store in the neighborhood."
Stephen Nichols, 75, of Guilford, had no complaints, even when told that the store's ATM bank machine wasn't up and running yet. He said he won't miss the Rotunda Giant — "not at all."
Ellie Reynolds, 25, of Hampden, a Community College of Baltimore County student, and her husband, Jason, 31, who works for an engineering firm, breezed through the store with one of its many free hand-held scanners. Their only hangup was getting through a self-checkout counter, but employees were quick to help them.
"Oh my gosh, I love it," Ellie Reynolds said.
She said she especially liked the new store's natural and organic food section.
The new store will be open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday, and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
The 47,000-square-foot Giant has a full-service deli, bakery, produce section, butcher and seafood departments, a cafe area with self-serve coffee, and separate floral and natural foods sections and a Carvel ice cream case.
There's no pharmacy, but a Rite Aid is next door in the shopping center, which also includes a T-Mobile cell phone store, aDunkin' Donuts, the restaurant Mamma's Cucina and a dry cleaners.
The floor and all shelving in the Giant is new, according to Miller.
The new Giant also has a "cartronics" system to prevent the theft of shopping carts from the store, Miller said.
Hyson was "a little bit sad" to leave the Rotunda, but couldn't hide his excitement at the privilege of running a brand new supermarket.
"It's a good feeling," he said.
On Saturday, two days after the grand opening, the new Giant appeared to be running smoothly, with a little temporary help from Jason Raborg, Giant's regional service manager.
"The customers are loving it," Raborg said.
And Hyson, whose duties range from training new employees to ensuring that shelves are stocked, was also greeting customers and answering questions, wearing his name tag with the Giant logo.
For him, it's all about the customers.
"I just try to touch each and every one of them," he said.
He hugged Joy Swonger, a former employee of the Rite Aid store in the Rotunda, who now works for another Rite Aid.
And he nodded a greeting to a customer he knew, who was passing by as he was talking to a reporter.
The woman gave him a big thumbs up and silently mouthed, "Nice job."