Corner store planned for downtown

Third Street soon could be getting a corner store.

Michael Matroodnejad and Phillip Fischer hope to open Downtown Grocery in April, selling some grocery items, toiletries, tobacco, alcohol and even some fresh produce from local farmers, Matroodnejad said Wednesday.

The two men own Summit Fuel in Livingston Parish and have applied for liquor permits from the state and city-parish for 2,200 square feet in the State National Life building at Third and Florida streets. The space was formerly home to an AT&T store.

“We’re trying to cater to the people who are staying in the hotels and people who are working downtown,” he said, noting “more people are moving downtown, too.”

The store’s grocery offerings will mainly be convenience items, but milk, bread, eggs and some produce will be available as well.

Matroodnejad said he’ll be renting an apartment downtown, and he and Fischer are developing a feel for how to serve the central business district.

“I’ll know the things that they’re going to need … and that’s what I’ll be there for,” he said.

Asked about hours, Matroodnejad said 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday is the plan at this point, but that could change based on morning and nighttime demand.

Matroodnejad and Fischer grew up in Baton Rouge, attending Broadmoor High School and Baton Rouge High School, respectively. Matroodnejad moved to Houston to learn the gas station and convenience store business, while Fischer went to LSU and taught in China.

The two became business partners in Houston before coming back to the Baton Rouge area to open Summit Fuel on Florida and Range avenues.

Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District, welcomed
the news, saying corner stores are a key component of urban life.

He added that Matroodnejad, 30, and Fischer, 27, along with T.J. Woodard, who plans to open Prescriptions to Geaux at 313 Third St. next month, are good examples of young entrepreneurs stepping up downtown.

“I love that they see opportunities down here and our office will certainly work with them,” he said.

Rhorer said the DDD has put together a survey online at http://www.downtown
batonrouge.org to gauge what items Prescriptions to Geaux, which announced its store and delivery service earlier this year, should offer.