Before and after
Of all the buildings in Grand Cayman, Foster’s Airport Center supermarket is probably one of the best known. It first opened its doors in 1980, but back then it was not the large, international supermarket we know today but a much more modest store taking up less than 6,000 square feet with a small space designated as a warehouse and around 25 employees. The idea for the supermarket came from Mr. David Foster who saw that there was a need in the community for a modern supermarket that provided quality food and had a larger choice of items while maintaining low cost. Foster’s was always a family business with Mr. Foster being joined in his venture by his mother Alta and brother Steve. When they opened, the store was known as the Foster’s Food Fair Dorcy Drive store. The present managing director, Mr. Foster’s son Woody, says they owned the land there so it that was how the supermarket came to be built there. “We owned the space at the airport site and rented the space to the Compass but when they moved out it opened up the space for the supermarket.” Woody says back then there was a more limited choice of goods. “While we sold all the basics we did not have as much variety as we have now. Also, we brought in goods like milk, bread and chicken frozen as that is how everyone was doing it back then. However within a few short years we switched over to fresh which made a big difference.”
In fact by 1983 the shop floor in the Dorcy Drive store was increased to over 20,000 square feet. In 1999 the Foster’ Food Fair joined the IGA Group of grocers and was renamed Foster’s Food Fair IGA and the same year they went through another expansion and became known as the Airport Center.
From an original 6,000 square feet in 1980 the store, warehouse and wholesale division took up 88,000 square feet. However, as it did for many other people on the Island, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 brought disaster. The Airport Center’s roof caved in causing destruction of the store and the loss of all the equipment. However by 15 September 2004 it was back to business as hundreds of customers lined up outside the devastated store to get free food and water. They had to open in a temporary location until the Airport Center location reopened on 14 December 2004, completely refurbished and with all new equipment. Four years later in 2010 they celebrated 30 years in the business and could look back at growth that had seen the Foster’s expand from one small supermarket to the five stores they now have across the Island and over 500 employees.