Harris Teeter raises the stakes in the Charlotte grocery wars with its new South End store. See 21 photos from the grand opening.

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Welcome to Harris Teeter’s newest addition to Charlotte. Excited customers flooded through the doors of their new swanky South End location at 2717 South Boulevard at yesterday’s grand opening.

And let me tell you, Harris Teeter spared no expense at this opening. There were balloons, live music, and most importantly, mountains of free food.

I’ve never been in such a crowded grocery store. Seriously, there was barely room to move, and I had my foot run over with a cart upwards of five times. Still worth it for the free samples though.

There were a ton of people chilling at the bar. It’s probably cooler than the one at the Myers Park Harris Teeter even if that one has a super devoted following.

Grab a pint of one of the 16 local beers on tap or one of the 8 wines available by the glass, sit, and procrastinate on doing your shopping.

This Harris Teeter has a ton of features, like their special event station that caters ready-made dishes for dinner parties and such. This feature isn’t brand new but is still pretty rare. The dishes change depending on the day of the week, so there could be pesto pasta one day and prime rib the next.

There’s a swanky DIY trail mix bar as well, borrowing from the Whole Foods playbook.

They also have a great selection of nuts to purchase by the pound.

One of my personal favorites: this grind-your-own peanut butter and/or almond butter station! I made myself some delicious honey roasted peanut butter while I was there.

If you’re into grand opening freebies, here’s a rundown of what Harris Teeter had to offer.

Well, there was fresh shrimp, for starters.

Mochi Ice Cream was being handed out. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a Japanese dessert in which a ball of ice cream is wrapped in a confection made from sticky rice. The flavors pictured here are Double Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Green Tea, Sweet Mango, and Ripe Strawberry.

Here are some adorable mini sandwiches.

The guys handing out chips and salsa were so friendly, he gave me a wave while I creepily photographed him from afar.

Free pizza. Need I say more?

That wasn’t even all the free food they had, but there were just too many samples for me to photograph them all.

And there is, of course, a Starbucks.

They were giving out mini frappuccinos! Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better.

To wrap up, here’s me enjoying a couple of the many, many samples I devoured.

Moral of the story: this new Harris Teeter is awesome, and I highly recommend. From now on, their regular hours will be from 6 a.m. until midnight. A lot of the features like the Special Event Station and the bar close at 9 p.m., though, so plan accordingly!

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