A soft opening Feb. 3 brought customers into the RD International Market who shopped the food, décor and houseware aisles, the fresh produce, refrigerated foods, frozen and fresh meats and fish – and the 70 live seafood tanks.
Crab, eel, geoduck (a large clam), shrimp and other live seafood were available along with other fresh options.
Owner Steven Yuan said business was good. “There are a lot of people,” he said, surveying the renovated Winn-Dixie at 7534 Beach Blvd.
The Asian and international supermarket is in the Beach Boulevard Shopping Center along Beach Boulevard at Hogan and Parental Home roads near the eastern access to the Hart Expressway.
Winn-Dixie closed in 2017. Yuan has leased it as his second RD International Market, with the first in Lake Worth.
The city issued a permit June 2, 2023, for Master Contractors Inc. of Lake Worth to renovate the 52,600-square-foot store at a construction cost of $980,000. The architect is Sandra Puerta of Lake Worth.
Yuan equipped the store with new flooring, shelving, freezers, refrigerators, checkout stations and carts with swivel casters that allow for easy guidance.
Some shelves and cold cases were not full yet Feb. 3; the hot food area in the back was not set up; and the 13 food court tenants were not operating. The sign was up for one of the tenants, Teppanyaki House. Tables and chairs are being prepared for setup.
Yuan said the store should be fully open in 20 or 30 days with the food court open within a month. He is considering a grand opening event.
From housewares to meats
In addition to food, the store carries housewares, toys, décor, tea sets and tea tables and chairs.
Meats include traditional cuts as well as frog legs; duck feet; pork belly, intestines and snouts; and other specialty varieties.
Produce includes mushroom varieties, bok choy tips and a large selection of vegetables and fruit.
The live seafood is sourced from its native areas, such as cold water from the north and warm water from Florida.
RD International intends to carry Florida-sourced fish and produce to the extent available.
Staff can clean and cut the seafood for customers and in the future will be able to cook it for eating in the food court or to take home.
The store is open in time for the Feb. 10 Lunar New Year for the Year of the Dragon. The celebration concludes with the Feb. 24 Lantern Festival.
The Chinese New Year also is known as the Spring Festival.
RD International Market is stocking seasonal items for the celebration.
Hours are posted as 10 a.m to 9 p.m. daily but those may change. Yuan said the Jacksonville store has been opening earlier than that.
The state's second RD International
Last June, when starting work on the store, Yuan said the market would include fresh produce, a bakery, 13 to 14 food-court operators, a hot food bar, groceries and – its specialty – 60 fish tanks for live seafood, including lobster, shrimp and crab.
The first market opened five years ago in Lake Worth. It has 30 live seafood tanks. At 11,000 square feet, the Lake Worth store is about a fifth of the size of the Jacksonville location.
Yuan and Irene Zhang, his sister and a company representative, expect the center to create 80 jobs.
The website says the market will host community events throughout the year.
“A lot of grandparents take the kids as a field trip to our store,” Zhang said previously.
While the store has a strong inventory of Asian food, the goal is to serve an international market.
“There is a large Asian population in Jacksonville,” Zhang said, in sharing how they chose the location.
While there are smaller Asian and international groceries, there is no large one with a wide selection of live seafood, she said.
“Jacksonville is a big city,” she said, and the Beach Boulevard address is conveniently located.
The U.S. Census reports that as of 2022, the Asian population in Jacksonville is estimated at more than 47,500, or 4.9% of the city’s population. That is up 35% from 35,200 in 2010.
The ZIP codes with the highest Asian population include 32256, 32246, 32207, 32258 and 32216, where the store opened, which is central to the others.
With Jacksonville’s waterfront and fishing, “it is a very good place to have a seafood market,” Zhang said.
The property owner is 1980 Union Port Associates LLC of New York City. Goldstein Commercial Properties Inc. is the landlord representative.