LINCOLN, Maine — Janice Helsor shops at Steaks N’ Stuff every week.
The Lincoln resident hits the food store’s deli first, then the meat section, before going on to the more general merchandise.
“I get everything that I can get here,” Helsor said. “Everything they have is fresh, and the prices are good. Their sale prices are great.”
Helsor will soon have an expanded selection to choose from. The decades-old town grocer on Mechanic Street is expanding from 6,500 square feet to 9,000 square feet, said Ruth Birtz, the town’s economic development director.
“It will allow them a lot more inventory to sell to customers,” Birtz said, “and increase the competitiveness among grocers in the region.”
With the concrete foundation to the 2,500-square-foot expansion already poured, workers from Larry Ham Construction of Lincoln will start work next week on the next phase: Installing steel beams that will connect the new roof to the existing trusses, Ham said.
Then the exterior walls and roof system will be put in place, as will the addition’s flooring. The work should be completed by late February or March, if the weather cooperates, Ham said.
“We will basically be outside for the next 1½ months,” Ham said.
The expansion, Birtz said, might be an answer to an old complaint from residents: That the Hannaford Supermarket on West Broadway had a virtual monopoly on food sales in the Lincoln Lakes region.
While the town has about a dozen small grocers or convenience stores — with the surrounding towns, such as Burlington, Chester, Howland and Lee, also having their own general or convenience stores — only the Hannaford stores in Lincoln and Millinocket, and Pangburn Family IGA on Route 157 in Millinocket, offer large-scale food sales.
Outside of Lincoln and Millinocket, the closest large-scale grocers are in the Old Town and Orono areas, which are at least 30 minutes south along Interstate 95.
“For a long time, people here have wished that there were more of a variety in the Lincoln area,” Birtz said.
In that sense, Steaks N’ Stuff is one of the Lincoln region’s larger success stories, Birtz said. Originally a deli, the first Steaks N’ Stuff opened in what was known as the Lake Mall, at West Broadway and Main streets, at less than 1,000 square feet sometime prior to 1991.
The store has changed ownership since, but grown, moving to its present location in 1998, Birtz said.
The remodeling includes a larger front entrance and runs along the front of the building, but exactly what will go into it is unclear. The owners of the store, R.D. Investments, did not return messages left at the store on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Lincoln Planning Board approved the expansion in early November.