Hy-Vee for years has expanded around the Midwest with stores it designed and built. But on Tuesday, it will take the rare step of opening a store in a former grocery.

Hy-Vee will become the third supermarket to occupy the space at 16705 County Road 24 in Plymouth — first the site of a Rainbow store and then a Cub Foods.

Cub's parent company Supervalu, which earlier this month became a unit of United Natural Foods Inc., closed the store in July. Hy-Vee announced soon after that it was taking over after a remodel.

The new store opens at 6 a.m. Tuesday and will then be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The store will be the 10th and smallest Hy-Vee in the Twin Cities. It has 56,000 square feet of space while the nine others range from 86,000 to 101,000 square feet.

"It's a size that we haven't done for a long time," Randy Edeker, chief executive of West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee, said. "Sometimes the greatest ideas come when you're forced to be creative. You have a box that's only this big."

Hy-Vee is also opening Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits, which took the place of Cellars Wine & Spirits that closed last month in an adjacent center.

Hy-Vee has hired 250 employees, including 100 full-time, for the Plymouth store. It will eventually employ 400.

Crews remodeled the site to include several elements that are typical of Hy-Vee, including a Starbucks, mother's rooms, pharmacy, individual bathrooms and self-checkout lanes.

It also has several dining counters, an open seating area, bakery and salad bar. It won't have a pizza counter or an apparel department, which is being phased out of Hy-Vee's other stores in the Twin Cities. Basin beauty, floral, pets and the baby departments are smaller. An in-store health clinic will open early next year.

"I'm very much looking forward to trying Hy-Vee," said Carol Vander Velden of Plymouth as she came out of nearby Fresh Thyme. "We buy a lot of organics, but we're also deal shoppers. We'll see how competitive Hy-Vee is."

With a goal of bringing fresher products to customers faster, Hy-Vee will add a fulfillment center in the Twin Cities expected to open in September. Omaha and the Kansas City area will also get fulfillment centers. The location and number of employees needed have yet to be announced, but the size is expected to be about 90,000 square feet.

Hy-Vee executives did not add any new locations to the ones already announced in Spring Lake Park and Maple Grove for 2019. Opening dates for Farmington, Columbia Heights, Chaska and a second Maple Grove site have not yet been set, but spokeswoman Tina Potthoff confirmed that a store location in West St. Paul is being "explored but not yet finalized."

Hy-Vee has 245 retail stores in eight Midwestern states. Around the Twin Cities, Hy-Vee has stores in New Hope, Oakdale, Lakeville, Brooklyn Park, Eagan, Savage, Cottage Grove, Shakopee and Robbinsdale. Edeker's goal is to have 20 stores in the Twin Cities, possibly adding four to five stores per year in the future.

Hy-Vee also has 16 Minnesota locations outside the metro. The Waseca location recently closed due to a dispute with the landlord, Edeker said.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633