Gelson’s Markets will mark the opening of its 18th store next Thursday, March 27, at 9 a.m. with a grand opening celebration at the La Cañada location, 635 Foothill Blvd.

Prizes and commemorative keepsakes will be given to the first 200 people to visit the store, including a box of Gelson’s chocolates, vouchers for free items and a gift bag filled with items valued at about $60, according to Yvonne Manganaro, senior director of marketing.

The grocery retailer previously served the Pasadena/Foothill communities from its location in Pasadena’s Paseo Colorado from 2001 until June 2013, which was frequented by La Cañada residents, but which faced a lot of challenges — from low visibility to parking issues to the closure of the outdoor mall’s flagship store, Macy’s, early last year.

Its interest in La Cañada fortuitously coincided with the impending closure of the Vons store it would ultimately replace, which closed its doors last fall.

“We really wanted to get back into the Pasadena/Foothills communities. Everything was just really aligned; it was perfect timing for us,” Manganaro said.

Gelson’s will showcase many of its signature features at the event, including Wolfgang Puck Express, a Peet’s coffee bar and a French-style bakery.

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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