By Jessica Thomas

The Buckhead grocery store known for decades as the Disco Kroger is reopening Oct. 19 as the first Fresh Fare Kroger in the Southeast after being closed five months for extensive renovations.

Fresh Fare is an upscale version of Kroger’s typical store, with an extensive selection of natural and organic foods, larger dairy and frozen food departments, an expanded wine department with a sommelier, a much larger floral department with a floral designer, and a section dedicated to bulk nutrition, said Kroger unit manager Stephen Leonard. Kroger has five of the concept stores.

A restaurant called The Bistro, featuring two chefs trained at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, will be inside the store. “You can get a gourmet prepared meal for less than $10,” Leonard said.

The renovated store will carry everything a typical Kroger sells. But to meet the demands of Buckhead residents and workers, the store will carry a lot more , Leonard said. Instead of going to one store for special organic, gourmet or natural foods and another for such everyday items as canned soup, potato chips and paper towels, Leonard said, with Fresh Fare “you can get the best of both worlds in one store.”

Those lamenting the loss of the Disco Kroger still will find signs of the store’s rich history.

A disco ball owned by the Limelight Club, the first of the discos located next to Kroger, will hang in the store lobby, along with a plaque commemorating the store’s legacy. Each night when the sun sets, the ball will light up and rotate until sunrise, Leonard said.

The store opened in August 1975, and it was one of the first 24-hour Kroger groceries in town. Buckhead native Drew Gregory recalled the Limelight moving in next door in February 1980 with a glass floor and a shark tank.

Patrons of the club trickled into Kroger until the wee hours, earning the store the its Disco Kroger nickname, said Don Rooney, the Atlanta History Center’s curator of urban history. Many Buckhead residents refer to the entire shopping complex as the Disco Kroger shopping center, he said.

Even people who do not know the origin of the store’s nickname call it the Disco Kroger.

Shealy Dixon, 24, has shopped there occasionally since moving to Buckhead two years ago. She doesn’t know why it’s called the Disco Kroger, but she is interested to see what the Fresh Fare concept provides.

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said the store will be another shopping benefit to the Buckhead area. He was looking forward to the grand opening, set for Saturday, Oct. 18, from 7 to 11 p.m.

Leonard promises that the store will focus on customer service and will be a community asset. The number of store employees is increasing from 109 to 250.

“It will be really exciting to see what Kroger customers have to say about the new store and for them to see what we have to offer them,” Leonard said.