One year after Cronig’s Market closed the doors of its up-Island store as the first wave of the pandemic rippled across the Island, the West Tisbury grocery is getting ready to reopen this spring with a completely renovated interior.

Haroldo Nascimento (left) and Bill Ewart begin stocking shelves. — Ray Ewing

An expansive network of new shelving, spaced widely to accommodate customers with distancing measures, as well as freshly painted walls, updated floors and light fixtures and a new solar energy-efficient refrigeration system are all part of the changes.

It’s a long way from March 2020, as stay-at-home orders began to take effect at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, and longtime store owner Steve Bernier made the difficult decision to close the store, consolidating his staff at the larger down-Island Cronig’s Market in Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Bernier quickly decided to use the shutdown as an opportunity to overhaul the somewhat dated interior of the store.

“I was driving by [the store] every day and I’m looking around and thinking, we’ve got to make lemonade from this lemon,” he told the Gazette Friday. “We proceeded on our little dream of rehabbing that store . . . It has a complete facelift and I think everybody’s going to love it.”

Beginning in late April, the market will reopen for business Monday through Saturday.

Interior of grocery store has been completely renovated with wider-spaced aisles and new refrigeration units. — Ray Ewing

The $1 million project to remodel the 26-year old store began early last May, Mr. Bernier said, describing an extensive renovation process that gutted the interior from tiles to refrigerators. “It’s a whole new presentation that’s been updated and will run more energy efficiently,” he said. “It’s all worked out wonderfully.”

Throughout the pandemic, Cronig’s flagship store in Vineyard Haven has remained open as an essential business, with Mr. Bernier at the helm. The market has supplied Islanders with necessary food and staples through a harrowing year of business closures and disrupted supply chains.

“We got hit with crazy business because schools closed and restaurants closed so the [Island’s] three food channels got shoved into one,” Mr. Bernier said. “It started the dominoes. We had no game plan, we didn’t know what was happening. While on the line of fire, I made the decision to close the up-Island store.”

The business, which is the lone grocery store up-Island, has stayed shuttered since then.

But the store has been anything but dormant. In a serendipitous twist, the pandemic — and the store’s extended closure — proved the perfect time for a long-planned renovation that was put off for years, Mr. Bernier said.

“We had been talking about [renovating] the last two or three years,” he said. “Lo and behold three years later, here comes Covid and the whole thing fell together.”

Inside the store Friday afternoon construction work buzzed along in the bright new space, while market staffers unpacked boxes and began stocking shelves. The general contractor for the project is Cricket Willoughby.

Re-opening is planned for late April. — Ray Ewing

As Mr. Bernier prepares to reopen the store, he reflected on the many trials and tribulations of running the business through the worst of the crisis, including a cluster of virus cases among Cronig’s employees late last fall, and his own battle with the virus.

When asked about the experience, he searched for the right words.

“It’s hard for me to find the words to that question because it’s so huge, so dynamic,” he said. “It was scary — everybody was wondering if I was coming back, if we were going to continue . . . It was like a 9.5 earthquake, if you’ve never experienced an earthquake in your life.”

In particular, he praised the store’s devoted staff members, who have worked tirelessly on the front lines to keep the Island safe and the business afloat. “I needed every single one of them and they hung in there and made it happen,” Mr. Bernier said.

Looking ahead to the grand re-opening of up-Island Cronig’s, Mr. Bernier said he hoped to see the Island return to a degree of normalcy this spring and summer, though he acknowledged the long road ahead.

“I just hope as a community we can get well enough to where we can come back and be able to sit in a room and a meeting together,” he said. “We’re climbing back up the hill.”