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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

FORT MYERS, FL-Ada’s Natural and Organic Foods, a fixture on the Gulf Coast for the last half-century, is venturing beyond its home turf with a new store across the state in Boca Raton. The 14,000-sf location at the Shops at Boca Grove will be the first of several stores planned in years to come.

“We’re trying to get to ten stores over the next few years,” Eddie Bonadies, owner of Ada’s Natural, tells GlobeSt.com. The chain currently has three stores in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples, and has signed or is pursuing additional retail leases in Kendall, Estero and Sarasota in 2009.

The Boca Raton location, which will have an Egyptian oasis theme, will carry at least 23,000 natural and organic products and feature a restaurant, bakery and coffee bar. All Ada’s Natural stores carry their own theme, such as a rainforest in the Fort Myers location.

Bonadies estimates buildout costs for each new store ranging between $2 million and $6 million, with some stores occupying as much as 75,000 sf, including a fitness club. He says he isn’t concerned about growing competition from other big-brand organic grocers, such as Whole Foods Market Inc., which bought rival Wild Oats Markets, and Publix Super Markets Inc., which is advancing its GreenWise concept.

“They opened doors for us that we’re able to expand upon,” Bonadies says, pointing out that Ada’s Natural stores are seen by customers as more of a “health mall” than an organic supermarket.

Bonadies also draws parallels between his enterprise and Publix, which also began decades ago with a single store in Lakeland and has since grown to the leading grocery chain in Florida. “I think we’re on the right track,” he says.

Woolbright Development handled leasing for the Shops at Boca Grove, as well as another Ada’s Natural lease at the Collection at Vanderbilt shopping center in Venice. Both stores are scheduled to open later this year.

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