Harsch's Canyon Place Shopping Center welcomes Asian Food Center
Nov. 6, 2013

A specialty Asian food market that has found success in the Seattle area is hoping to thrive at its new Beaverton location.

The Asian Food Center opened Friday, Oct. 18, in a newly remodeled space that was formally the Marshalls store at Canyon Place Shopping Center.

Stacy Zhong, who came from China to study food science at the University of Washington, is one of three co-owners of the business. She lives in Seattle but is helping set up the new Beaverton location before handing it over to local management.

So far, the center has about 40 employees, with plans to grow to 60 in the coming months. Applications are being accepted now.

The proximity of the store to the MAX line, which is just beyond the building’s back door, provides important opportunities for workers without cars, Zhong said.

The original Asian Food Center has been in Bellevue, Wash., for six years, Zhong said. She and the other owners began hearing from visiting Portland-area customers that there were limited options for such specialty shopping across the state line, so the company started looking for a second location.

“We have some customers come in and say, ‘I’m so happy you’re open,’” Zhong said.

It’s rewarding, she said, and that kind of response has her feeling optimistic for the future. She’s seen hundreds of customers each day since the store opened, she said.

The Beaverton center has been in the works since February, Zhong said. The building required extensive interior remodeling to add refrigeration units, higher ceilings and equipment for venting the smell of seafood.

“We have so much variety, it’s a challenge,” Zhong said of managing the seafood counter’s distinctive odor. “But we spend a lot of time with the equipment.”

The Asian Food Center offers specialty items that cannot be found in most standard grocery stores, Zhong noted. She pointed out a variety of fresh Asian noodles, imported sauces and cooking oils, and extra-thin-sliced meat that is cut to suit hot pot dishes.

Much of the dried groceries are imported, while produce like pears and apples are locally grown, Zhong said. The Oregon pears and Washington apples were some of the most popular purchases during the center’s first weekend.

The complete article is available online.