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Imagine a grocery store with a thousand types of beer and several aisles of wine. Add to that a cheese shop, a seafood market that sells flounder and squid, and a dining area with a sushi chef and a pub.

Such a place – Wegmans – exists. But not in Virginia Beach. Not yet anyway.

Wegmans opened recently in Short Pump on the northwest side of Henrico County to much fanfare. Police officers directed traffic to a packed parking lot. Hundreds of people lined up at the doors of the company’s 90th store. When it opened at 7 a.m., customers quickly filled carts with products from the New York-based supermarket.

All that for what isn’t even the first Wegmans in the Richmond area – the other is in Midlothian.

Now the question is: When is Hampton Roads going to get one?

In June, a developer withdrew a rezoning application for a Wegmans on airport-owned land in Newport News because of concerns raised by the City Council about the location, according to a Daily Press article.

Since then, talk of one in Virginia Beach has ramped up. As far north as Fredericksburg, Wegmans cashiers said a Virginia Beach store was in the works.

“Don’t worry, ” one said. “We’re on our way down there!”

Even employees of other grocery stores in the resort city seemed to know the exact location of where one would be built. But the owner of the site did not return calls for comment.

If you’re not from the Northeast, it’s difficult to understand why a grocery store has such a cult following.

Perhaps it’s the Mediterranean Bar, which includes more than 70 items such as olives, antipasta and mozzarella. Both Richmond stores have a kosher deli.

It could be the free samples that are offered every few steps: Milky brie. New York cheesecake. Hand-made soap from Maryland.

Maybe it’s the immense amount of food that’s ready to eat in the store’s dining area. It’s common knowledge that grocery shopping on an empty stomach can be detrimental to the pocketbook.

Of course, in Hampton Roads, the main draw might be nostalgia. For those who grew up on Wegmans food, what could be better than making mom’s lasagna with the same ingredients she does?

No one The Virginian-Pilot interviewed was ready to spill the beans officially.

“We don’t confirm until we have a definite deal, ” said Jo Natale, a Wegmans spokeswoman. “We have no new sites in Virginia to announce at this time.”

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