Friday, December 23, 2016

Another Superfresh Coming Soon!

The Food Emporium Garwood is no more!

Superfresh coming soon!
Post on Facebook

This is a good choice. "The Food Emporium" had too much of a bad reputation behind it, and with Superfresh, they can make a "fresh" (ha! - couldn't resist) start. I personally liked this store a lot but I know of many people who don't.

Photo from Styertowne on Flickr.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

CTown, Bethlehem, PA

La Tiendona del Pueblo, Part II

CTown Supermarket, Bethlehem, PA

Bethlehem, PA has an appeal to most people. Some like its historic, "small-town" downtown area (definitely a nice downtown). Some like the city-within-a-city of South Bethlehem. Others go for the Sands Casino. It's pretty safe to say that few visit Bethlehem for its supermarkets. And you certainly wouldn't visit it for its Ahart's. But within walking distance of Ahart's is another CTown, opened ca. 2012 in the former Supermercado Mi Tierra, the original Latin supermarket of the Lehigh Valley. (Click on the name for an interesting article about the store's closing and history.)

Once again shattering the traditional perception of CTown as dirty, rundown, and overpriced, this CTown is quite beautiful and generally a good store. To get an idea of the layout, take a look at this interior tour on Google Maps. Have an idea of how the store is laid out? Now let's take a look at my own pictures. You'll notice some changes since that tour.

The store is located on 3rd St, with a small parking lot on the side. The entrance and exit open onto the sidewalk. It's a very urban store.

The above picture shows the side of the store facing the parking lot. The tour bus in the background is, of course, going to the Sands Casino which, like Ahart's, is within walking distance of this store. It is, however, in the opposite direction from Ahart's. Heading inside, there is once again a compact but well-stocked produce department. Unlike the Allentown store, the right-side wall of the store is lined with service departments, and there is a small seating area in the front-right corner (where the bottled water is stacked in the virtual tour).
As you saw in the tour, there is a deli/bakery/hot food counter to my right here. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but they were cooking something behind the counter, as it was right before lunchtime that I visited this store. It smelled so good! (Then we went to Ahart's, which smelled like rotting meat.) Unfortunately, as you can see in the above picture, the seafood department is closed, and is used as a display of bottled water instead. It's an awfully short run for a seafood department in such a new store. Continuing around the store, the meat department runs along the back wall of the store.
The dairy department is along the last aisle. Notice once again the nice, new floors, cases, and shelving.
And of course, the ubiquitous "WALL OF VALUES" along the front wall with every canned good known to man stacked literally to the ceiling...
As you can see, the store is very small, as the far green wall is the other side of the store. However, it's an even nicer store than the Allentown location, and seems to do a very good business.

CTown, Allentown, PA

La Tiendona del Pueblo, Part I

CTown Supermarket, Allentown, PA

We're continuing our tour of the Lehigh Valley area with this small inner-city CTown supermarket operating in a former Save-A-Lot. I know a lot of people dislike CTown but in my experience CTown has been a consistently good urban supermarket. All of the stores I've been to have been clean and well-stocked, with excellent prices. This one was no exception.

The building is a former barrel roof A&P which opened in the 40s (I believe) and was replaced by Jewel-T in 1978, becoming Save-A-Lot in 1986. Save-A-Lot closed in 2001 and was replaced by CTown around 2006, I think. (Not sure about that gap there, if there was one.)

CTown seems to have gutted the store when they opened and despite the store's strange layout and size (it's six aisles, but extremely deep), it's a very nice store. All the fixtures, flooring, and shelving seem to be newer than 2001, pointing to either an extensive later renovation or a later opening date.

Contrary to what the store's sign would have you believe, "La Tiendona del Pueblo" does not translate to "Supermarkets for Savings". "La Tiendona del Pueblo" means "The Superstore of the Town (or the People)". This store is owned by Juan Diaz, who also owns the CTown in Bethlehem and formerly the Easton Food Market.

Heading inside, we are greeted by a small but well-stocked and compact produce department.
 The checkouts are to my right here, with meat along the back wall. There is a tiny deli counter in the front right corner (to my right here). The second aisle is all international foods (percentage-wise, that's a huge part of the sales floor since there are only six aisles!)
Note the updated floors, shelving, and aisle markers (although quite a few aisle markers were missing either a number or product).
Normally, my pictures focus mainly on the store's perimeter, but there's so little perimeter here!
As with many urban, Hispanic-targeted urban supermarkets, there is a large non-food section, but little to no HABA. This store's selection focuses on cooking utensils and cleaning supplies mainly:
The last aisle contains frozen and dairy, with fairly new cases.
You might think the store was empty based on these pictures, but it was actually quite busy. There were a lot of people coming and going, although there were also quite a few doing larger shopping. In the above picture, we're looking towards the back of the store. The deli department is directly behind me, as are the checkouts. The front-end was too crowded to get a picture of.

Along the side of the store are several murals. It's a nice touch although it seems pretty out-of-the-way:
I'm assuming the black space to the left is the future home of another. Almost the entire side wall had murals along the bottom.

While I wouldn't call the Allentown CTown a tourist destination, it's definitely a solid supermarket for the neighborhood.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Superfood Marketplace - Allentown, PA

A Former A-Frame Acme?

Superfood Marketplace - Allentown, PA

Most of the time I at least have a vague idea of the history of the stores I post. This one, I must confess, I know virtually nothing about. It appears to be an A-Frame Acme with a new facade on the front, but I have no evidence that it ever was. I do know more recently, it was a Valley Farm Market which closed in 2015. Superfood, an Elizabeth, NJ-based chain of three stores, bought the store and reopened after some renovations. As far as I know, they've made it more of a standard grocery store. The bakery department was removed, but the store now has produce, deli, meat, seafood, hot food, and salad bar. At 50,000 square feet, this store is much smaller than Valley Farm's other location in Bethlehem, but much larger than Superfood's other locations, in Elizabeth (about 15,000-20,000) and Middlesex, NJ (35,000). It's a very nice, clean store but some customers have been complaining about the high prices. To be fair, I didn't look too extensively at the prices. Being from northern NJ, I'm also used to paying more!

The exterior is a pretty nice facade, recently repainted:
Because of the logo they are using, the storefront ends up reading "Superfood Marketplace Marketplace" since there is already a "marketplace" underneath "Superfood". Not as bad as Superfresh Food World, but it would not be my first choice. Let's head inside . . .
This is what makes me think it's a former Acme. Even if it's not, it's still a really cool building. It seems a little on the big side for a 1960s A-Frame Acme, but I could be wrong. If this really was an Acme, then probably Valley Farm would have taken out the first maybe three aisles to expand the produce aisle. Based on the lighting, which Valley installed, the produce aisle has been this setup for a while.

However, the produce department also goes into an area to the right under a much lower drop ceiling. It's most likely an expansion. If this was an Acme, it could have been a backroom.
The entrance is behind me here. Straight ahead there is a small bakery section, although there is no in-store bakery (which Valley had). Unfortunately the flooring seems to be new from Valley's last remodel, at which point the entire store's would have been replaced, so there is really no evidence of expansion or any layout changes.
Along the back wall, there is a long counter that has the service deli, meat, and seafood departments. My back is to the grocery aisles here. Once again, the service departments are under a much lower drop ceiling, in what could have been backroom space. In front of the deli counter was a very nice hot food and salad bar, which I unfortunately could not get a picture of.
Looking back towards the produce aisle, we see the meat counter to the left here. The seafood and deli counters are past it on the left. In the last aisle, there is what is probably another expansion, with frozen and dairy.
This store was pretty impressively well-stocked! As you can see in this picture, there are some White Rose-brand products, but most of the storebrands around the store were Parade, from The Federated Group.

In the grocery aisles, all the shelving is new. Superfood added it when they moved in this past summer. I know a lot of people really don't like this style of shelving, but I think it's much better than the regular type.
Along the front wall, over the checkouts (which are under a drop ceiling also), there is a huge mural of a tractor-trailer truck that originally said "Valley Farm Market" on the side. When Superfood took over, they clearly did not want to remove the mural but also could not change the name on the side. So "Valley Farm" has been replaced by a cut-out decal of the Superfood logo, so that it reads, unfortunately, "Superfood Marketplace Market". It's pretty haphazard but still a nice touch.

But in my attempt to get a picture of the mural, I was walking down an aisle and did not realize that a light fixture was directly in front of the logo! So you get the idea, but I should have been paying more attention...
Here's an image from Yelp of Valley Farm Market which gives you a better idea of the mural... 
This person did not stand with a light fixture directly between them and the logo! 

There are maybe 5 checkouts, and a customer service counter, along the front end. The registers look to be very old - maybe someone can identify what store they are from!
In a nice store like this, why do they ruin the front-end with that awful neon Customer Service sign? It doesn't match anything in the rest of the store (although it may have at one point), and it's just plain old ugly in my opinion. The room with the windows is a manager's office. The exit is behind me to my left.

All in all, Superfood is a really nice store. I personally liked it a lot better than the Valley Farm I went to in Bethlehem, but I can understand why some people wouldn't. For one, it's a heavily Latin-influenced supermarket. The owners are Portuguese and Hispanic, as are many people in the area, and the products they sell reflect that.

One interesting note - several of the carts they were using were from Twin City Supermarket, a small chain of stores in my area of northern NJ (Elizabeth, Newark, Plainfield; Aquí Market in Jersey City and Bridgewater; and Pueblo in Newark). I wondered why but then I found that the owners of Twin City and Pueblo also co-own this store with Ana Lemes, who owns Superfood in Elizabeth and a few other small stores in the area. So that makes sense!

Hopefully someone who knows more about this area can tell us whether this really ever was an Acme, and fill us in on some more historical details!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Vintage Photos of NJ Supermarkets!

Step Back in Time...

Check out these photos of NJ Supermarkets!
2016 Album
2015 Album
2014 Album

Maybe in the future I'll do a comparison then-and-now with some of these stores (we'll see!). More exciting stuff is on its way, so stay tuned.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Superfresh Food World, Bloomfield, NJ

Good Store, Awful Logo I:

Superfresh Food World, Bloomfield, NJ

Welcome to our new series, Good Store Awful Logo! Our first Good Store Awful Logo is the new Superfresh Food World in Bloomfield, NJ. Let's take a look at their logo before the store, so you can appreciate its full atrocity.

Just take a minute and let it sink in. So at first glance, they took the Superfresh logo, got rid of the s-in-a-circle design, split it in half, and added their own Food World logo. But no! Compare their lettering in "Superfresh" to the official Superfresh logo from the Key Food website:
Image from
Upon closer inspection, we see that the lettering is different. Compare the e's, for instance. Close but not the same! Now let's focus on the Food World logo in the center. Random palm trees off-center? Check. Black-and-white globe clip art? Check. Unreadable script? Check. Wings growing out of the word "Food"? Check. It sure looks like this logo was put together in Microsoft Publisher with a bunch of clip art. But enough criticism! Let's take a more cheerful look at the store itself, which is actually quite good.

When I visited in May, the day after they opened (they opened on May 6), the exterior renovations the landlord was planning had not yet begun. The store was still in progress. The monument sign, for instance, still had the A&P shape and a banner over it:
This has since been replaced by a new monument sign that is much more attractive. Now for a look at the facade. Up until around 2010, the facade was pretty straightforward,
with a dark grey A&P FOODMARKET awning across the entire storefront.
 Image from AFI Management Company.
Some time around 2010, when the company began using the simplified logo, the awning was removed and a simple A&P logo was put up. While it had the potential to look modern and minimalistic, it instead looked temporary:
Image from JoshAustin610's Flickr Photostream, which has pictures of just about every grocery, department, and drug store you can imagine in the NJ-NY-PA area!

Remember, I was here the second day the store was operating, so a permanent sign had not been put up yet for Superfresh Food World. Instead a banner was placed, slightly off-center, with the logo.
The new facade renovation has been completed, and at least the store is very attractive, if the logo is awful:
Image from Urstadt Biddle Properties.
The blank storefront to the right of SFFW is a Walgreens whose sign had not yet been put up. Let's head inside. Immediately inside to your right is an oversized, stylized version of the Superfresh logo (sans Food World), which is pretty cool:
The produce department is extremely large and has a huge selection of international produce as well as staples. The meat department runs along the right-side wall, to my right here, and seafood is in the back of the grand aisle.
The track lighting above the produce cases is new, as are the cases. The floor, which is in pretty bad shape, is not. Continuing towards the back of the store, we see the seafood department:
The graphics on the walls behind the lettering are really cool, and so are the backlit lettering and the fake wood bar that holds the letters. It's a very refined look that doesn't make the store seem too cheap, or too upscale.
Not an inch of space is put to waste here! The bags hanging above the produce cases are spices and dried herbs.

Continuing around the store, dairy cases run along the back wall past seafood.
The last aisle is frozen foods. There are 11 aisles in total. As the name implies, this store's specialty is ethnic foods, and there is quite a variety of them.
In the front corner, there is a small bakery department and a deli/prepared foods counter, which also sells hot food and sushi.
You can see they were not quite fully stocked on everything when I visited. The bakery is to my right here and the checkouts are where you can see the windows to the left.
Like many of these urban/ethnic stores, the bakery department relies heavily on products brought in from commercial bakeries elsewhere, but it appears that this store also has its own in-store bakery.
We continue along to the front-end and checkouts to exit...
When I visited, the store was still using a combination of old Pathmark and A&P carts:
My guess is that these carts came from the old Montclair Pathmark, which was not bought by a supermarket operator in the bankruptcy auction. I've heard that they have gotten new carts since.

Superfresh Food World is a cool store but the logo is pretty horrible. Stay tuned for coverage of their second location in Belleville, NJ!