Entries in Fairway (1)
For many months, I’d stared at the shell of the building being renovated at the Post Road Plaza shopping center, and couldn’t wait for Fairway Market to open!
On April 14, with much fanfare, Irvington residents Howie Glickberg, and his son Dan Glickberg, ushered in a brand new era of Westchester and North Bronx retail history, with the opening of "the world's greatest food store" in Pelham Manor, New York. I managed to have a front row seat (well, I grabbed a place in the line stretching around the side of the building), when the doors opened at 9 a.m.
There was an incredible turnout, under glorious blue skies. Many customers in line had shopping carts at the ready, as they clutched flyers with advertised deals on organic produce, olive oil, and Murray’s chicken. Little Neck Clams, freshly harvested from Long Island's Gold Coast were also on sale.
Fairway Market, was founded in Manhattan in the 1930's. There are now six stores throughout New York, and New Jersey. The company prides itself as being family run (now in it’s fourth generation). It had more than 12 million shoppers last year, ranking it as one of New York's premier artisinal food destinations.
After growing up in the land of huge corporate national grocery store chains, offering an array of average products, it was amazing to have so many extraordinary fresh food choices, all under one roof. Howie Glickberg said, “Shop at Fairway once, and you’ll be a customer for life!”
In New York, Fairway has a legendary cult-like following. Why would people from Westchester drive all the way to Harlem just to buy groceries? Why were the local foodie blogs in a frenzied buzz over when Fairway would open in Pelham Manor? At first, it really didn’t make much sense to me. I had visited two of their stores- one in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which was in a converted Civil War era warehouse building, and the outpost in Harlem. A cursory walk-through revealed yes, they had a lot of produce, and fabulous food, but I didn’t really appreciate that it was an extraordinary market.
I was sooo naïve.
However, times, and tastes change. After spending a few years volunteering on a few food systems initiatives, shopping at local farmers markets, and watching documentaries, I finally understood how important it was to have access to fresh food. I saw the light. As a matter of fact, I also realized that buying food at Fairway is more of a culinary excursion than simply going grocery shopping! If cooking is an art, and baking is a science, then Fairway is the food university.
"This store is ginormous!"
The Pelham Manor store is a whopping 75,000 square feet, and has 400 employees. At the door, employees handed out maps to navigate the aisles. At one point there was so much going on during opening day, that I found myself happily overwhelmed, and hit sensory overload. Between the huge selection of coffee beans on display, the fresh mozzarella station, the sushi bar, the bakery, and the vast deli counter, I didn’t quite know where to look first. The store also has 15,000 organic and natural foods available in the store. The staff was extremely friendly, and quick to answer questions.
There was a tremendous turnout, but I was pleasantly surprised at how fast it was to checkout. Before leaving, I received a wonderful cornucopia of Fairway gifts, just for being among the first few hundred people to enter the store.
The bag included a copy of The Food Life, written by Steve Jenkins, Fairway's former master buyer, and legendary cheese monger. The book contains anecdotes from the man who personally brought so many of the world's greatest foods to New York and the United States. It’s also a great primer for shopping at Fairway, as there are many stories about some of the store’s bestsellers. There are also many recipes by Jenkins's longtime associate, Mitchel London.
As great as opening day was, I had a chance to visit again a few days later, and there were just as many people there. However, I did get to walk around several areas of the store that I completely missed before, including the incredibly busy 60-seat café. Some other must-sees include:
- 6,000 square foot produce section with both organic and conventional offerings
- More than 100 varieties of domestic and imported olive oils
- 70 different types of olives
- Store roasts 2,000 pounds of coffee daily.
- Cheese counter has more than 600 different cheeses and a mozzarella making station.
- A fresh pasta section.
In May the Pelham Manor store will open a Fairway Wine and Spirits in 6,500 square foot space. Fairway Market is open 8 am to 11 pm daily. For more information visit Fairway's website.