Sunday, June 25, 2017

Food Fair La Gran Marqueta - Paterson, NJ

No, it's not the Food Fair you're thinking of! It's more closely related to this Food Fair but, I believe, with different owners. It joins two additional Food Fair locations in Newark  (a former Fine Fare listed unfortunately on Google Maps as Fine Foods) and the Bronx (also a former Fine Fare). This particular location, in an industrial district of Paterson, opened as a Super Food Fair, using the old Food Fair logo, in 2009 after completely gutting a building previously occupied by a furniture store and before that, an original Food Fair. It seems that the Super Food Fair owners gutted the furniture store and fitted it with equipment that looks secondhand. Around 2012, the store was sold and slowly gutted again and completely redone with all new fixtures and decor, as well as flooring. At this time, the store re-branded as Food Fair La Gran Marqueta ("the big market" in Spanglish).

There is no wasted space inside or outside. Carts are under the white awning to the left, and more merchandise is under the one to the right. The entrance is the open door in the middle. There is also an entrance on the side wall to the left, which is where the exit is also. When you enter, you turn right and walk along the entire front of the store, before entering into the REAL store at the far end of the building.
The door on the right is the entrance; the door on the left is the exit. You can see that the entrance hallway you walk down to enter is an expansion and not part of the original building. Merchandise is stacked along the front wall of the store.

At the end of the hallway you enter a very cramped but very nice produce department. This case on the right is along the front wall.

As you make a left, the service departments (seafood/meat) are along the side wall. You can then proceed to the grocery aisles which run parallel to this wall. The track lighting is a nice touch. Also, notice that the department signage is in both English and Spanish, because of the neighborhood's large Hispanic population.

The meat counter is toward the back of the store.

Most of the meat cases, unfortunately, are still open coffin cases. However, the floor is very attractive.

Looking back up towards the front of the store. You can tell how cramped the grand aisle is here.

I have to give them credit for the well-stocked shelves!

Proceeding along the back of the store, the grocery aisles begin to your left and dairy is along the back wall.

This is the front of the first aisle. Notice how there is no way to get from the grocery aisles/front-end to the produce/meat department. All traffic going through the store must pass through the back aisle. Once again, you can see how packed with merchandise the store is and how cramped it feels. It must be a nightmare if it ever gets really busy.

Looking towards the front of the store. The aisles are barely wide enough to fit two carts.

You can also tell that one of the Food Fairs painted the ceiling, which really brightens up the store. I love the lack of wasted space - dairy cases with products hanging from the top and paper products on top of that!

Around here, a very young boy came up to me and said, "Excuse me, can you help me find cheddar cheese?" Apparently he was shopping alone or in a different part of the store from his parents. That struck me as strange, since he was really young, maybe five or six years old. He was very polite, though, and we found cheddar cheese!

The second-to-last aisle is frozen foods. These cases look fairly old, so they may be secondhand.

The last aisle has dairy along one side and along the wall, bread, in-store bakery, deli, and hot food. It was surprising to me that Food Fair bakes in-store since most ethnic urban stores like this don't.

The exit, past the registers, takes you out past the deli/hot food counter. You can see the plastic bags in this picture. What made them strange was every single one, without exception, was from Fine Fare. This was strange for me because I'd been to one Fine Fare, in Belleville, which used City Supermarket bags; the two places I'd gotten Fine Fare bags were here and Unique Thrift Store in Elizabeth, which uses all kinds of rejected bags from other stores.

A few more exterior pictures...
There is one row of parking along the front of the store but most is along the side.

This Food Fair is a nice and modern store, and a great resource for the neighborhood, but is WAY too cramped for my tastes. It's clean and well-maintained, but unfortunately not as pleasant to shop in as it could be.

Food Fair La Gran Marqueta

946 Market St, Paterson, NJ 07513

Open Mon-Sat 7AM-10PM  Sun 7AM-9PM
(862) 257-1181
My Rating: 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Major Food Stores in NJ

For anyone who is crazy like I am, you know that it can be hard to find all the supermarkets in a given area. Some don't have websites, and others are too new to be listed on Google Maps. And what about those dozens of "farmers markets" that have been popping up across the Garden State? Is there a better way to find out where all the supermarkets in New Jersey are?

Why yes, there is, thank you for asking!

Here is my attempt at a complete list of every major food store in New Jersey. I'm sure I'm missing plenty, so feel free to fill me in. Leave a comment on this post or email me at But this is - as far as I know - the most complete and up-to-date listing of every grocery store in New Jersey. A few things:

  • This spreadsheet includes the following categories:
    • Discounter: Discount and price-impact stores.
    • Supermarket: Large, full-service grocery stores with fresh products.
    • Market: Smaller grocery stores with fewer services and less fresh selection.
    • Gourmet Market: Specialty grocer focusing on high-end items.
    • Fresh Market: Produce-only greengrocer stores as well as larger "farmers markets" with services such as floral, seafood, meat, or deli.
    • Kosher Market: Kosher grocery stores.
    • Asian Market: General category encompassing Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and other Asian stores.
    • Indian Market: Stores specializing in Indian groceries.
    • Natural Market: Stores specializing in natural and organic groceries.
  • This spreadsheet EXCLUDES the following categories:
    • Farmstands
    • Convenience stores and bodegas
    • Hypermarkets like Walmart Super Centers
    • Warehouse club stores like Costco
    • Dollar stores that sell groceries
  • All information is accurate to the extent of my knowledge.
By my count, there are 793 grocery stores currently operating in New Jersey. That is:
  • An average of about 1.4 per municipality
  • An average of about 38 per county
  • An average of one grocery store per about 11,300 people
  • An average of one grocery store per about 11 square miles of land area
The city with the most grocery stores is Jersey City with 25 stores.
With 139 locations, ShopRite has the most stores in New Jersey.

For your reading pleasure, I've created two separate spreadsheets. The first is organized alphabetically by store name, and the second is organized alphabetically by municipality name. Each has the store name, street address, municipality, and category.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

TOUR: Foodtown, Valley Cottage, NY

Here we are in the small town of Valley Cottage, NY, just a few miles from New City and Spring Valley. This former A&P was reopened by Albert Tirado and industry veteran Robin Estevez, whose book Lessons from Behind the Counter you should definitely check out if you haven't heard of it! (Estevez also owns stores under his family's own company, Estevez Markets.)

We can see what A&P used to look like in this picture from an electric company's website:
The landlord did some substantial facade renovations, really making the whole mall much more modern looking. You will notice that only the newer, abbreviated A&P logo is on the storefront, but this store was never a Fresh Market.
The above photo was taken from a hotel-locator website.

Foodtown redid the logo, obviously, but also added some department signage across the front. It makes the facade a little more interesting, especially since there are no windows along the front wall.
The Foodtown banner on the far right side is there because there is a driveway that comes in and directs traffic directly towards that part of the building, but none that directs people straight to the main Foodtown sign.

Before we go in, I'll explain a little about the layout to give you a better idea of how it's set up. When you enter on the far left side of the store, you immediately make a 90-degree turn to your right. The aisles actually run parallel to the front of the store and the checkouts are along the left-side wall. The corner of the store shown in the photo above is the deli/prepared foods area, with meat and seafood along the right-side wall and bakery in the back right corner.

This is a beautiful sight. There were plenty of carts, they were all the same, and they were all brand-new.

When you enter the store, you turn right for produce. The checkouts are along the wall behind me here and the front wall of the store is actually the wall visible to the right. All the fixtures and decor are brand-new. It's actually a really nice store, and extensive work has been done after taking over from A&P. These guys actually renovated first, and then reopened the store. The ceiling is painted dark green, which seems strange but is actually quite nice in person.

The salad bar is located in the back corner in front of the deli counter. There is also a hot food bar, and the offerings looked really good. This is also a really nice fixture.

The entrance is straight ahead and the front wall of the store is to the left. The flooring is pretty cool. I'm generally a fan of polished concrete but this fits the space much better.

The deli/meat counters are in the corner of the back of the grand aisle. The grocery aisles also have pretty awesome flooring...

The wood texture along the top of the grocery shelving is a nice touch.

I believe the second-to-last aisle is frozen foods. I think all of these cases are completely new.

Seafood is along the back wall. It's a small selection but nice, and it's good they included it. Beer and then dairy follow along the wall of the last aisle.

I love the clear aisles! You can also see the flooring better here.

The brick texture is also pretty cool.

I don't know what firm designed this store but they did a great job! It's really attractive and it is also all unified.

Here we can see the bakery in the front corner and the front-end which is actually along the side of the store.

The Foodtown of Valley Cottage was a pleasant surprise. The owners clearly put a good amount of effort into the conversion from A&P, and it shows. I was expecting a quick repaint and reset from A&P, but this was a complete renovation.


Open Daily 7AM-9PM

My Rating:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

TOUR: Farmboy Superfresh - Paterson, NJ

Good Store, (Formerly) Awful Logo, Part II!

Welcome to Farmboy Superfresh of Paterson, NJ! This was technically the first Superfresh to open under Key Food, replacing a former Food Basics that operated very briefly as a Farmboy Country Market...
I think we're all glad they got rid of that logo from the facade. And yes, that does actually say FABMBOY!

The Food Basics replaced an A&P built in the 1970s. The white office building seen in the very background of the first photo was A&P's corporate offices at the time, and there was originally a store facing Delaware Ave (the street in the foreground to the left in the below image).
This view from Google Maps shows the current Farmboy next to the old office building, now home to Paterson Public Schools' offices. I know I've seen a picture of the old A&P in the office building somewhere online, but I can't seem to find it right now. Please let me know if you know what I'm talking about!

Fun fact - this was the most recent new-build supermarket in Paterson, until the brand-new Super Supermarket (it looks really nice) opened in 2012!

When I visited Farmboy, it was still under construction. Food Basics had no service departments, and Farmboy was reopening them. They were pretty close to being ready, but the decor was not done yet. I've included comparison shots with some of my pictures from Key Food's Facebook page. (I took all of the photos except for those, which I've marked.) Let's head in!

We're welcomed in both English and Spanish, reflecting the large Hispanic population of the surrounding area. This sign is left over from Food Basics.

You enter into a large, inviting, and well-stocked produce department. It's probably the store's best feature.
You can see where Farmboy was in the process of redoing the service departments along the side and back walls. Packaged meat and cold cuts are along the aisle facing into the produce department.

The flags along the right side are a nice touch that Farmboy added, emphasizing this store's diversity.

Looking from the produce department along the front-end towards the far end. You can see the entrance to the right above. Customer service is past the checkouts along the front wall.
An overview of the produce department.

We can see in the below "after" picture from Key Food that not much as been changed in the produce department.
All the decor seen on the walls here is left from Food Basics.

Heading towards the back of the store, we can see the area where the service departments were being installed.
It struck me as a little strange that a store like this would have such a prominent display of local organic honey! Maybe they were just filling space until the service departments could open.

This was the first service counter towards the front of the store. It has since been turned into a deli. (Notice the slicers along the back wall.)

Moving towards the back of the store, we see the new Halal meat counter and the seafood counter in the back corner.

Both of these counters opened, along with a regular meat counter along the back wall and an olive bar in between, as we see in these pictures from Key Food:
The decor here is entirely new and is not at all left from Food Basics. Unfortunately, only this corner was redone! The rest of the store, then, doesn't really match. Back to my own pictures:

The area in front of the service counters is filled with some random shelving, which I wish they could have replaced with something better.

 Looking towards the front of the store from the back.

The cold cuts and packaged meat section along the grocery aisles. You can kind of see here the lighting over the grocery aisles, which is all brand-new LED. I think Farmboy also painted the drop ceiling.

The first aisle was blocked off when I visited, as the liquor section had not opened yet.

No liquor, but plenty of Country Club soda!

Looking along the back aisle towards the area that Farmboy has built out for the service counters. Dairy runs along the back wall.

The international flags continue along the front of all of the grocery aisles, where the open ceiling meets the drop ceiling.

There were certainly some different selections here! The area is both heavily Hispanic and heavily Middle Eastern, and I think Farmboy does a good job of catering to both. Willie Park (second from left), the owner, is Korean!

Hmm. Looks like they need some light help here. This decor is all Food Basics decor.

Clean and well-stocked aisles! I can't tell if this shelving is new (I thought Food Basics used green shelving), but it looks good. If this store ever gets busy, though, those displays will make for rough navigation of the aisles!

An overall view of the dairy department along the back wall.

A view down another aisle.

More dairy. This part of the store still looks exactly like it did in these pictures.

There are 11 aisles in total, with frozen foods being in the last and continuing into an alcove in the front corner.

I have to say, this aisle was not nearly as cramped as it looks here. The freezer cases are likely left from A&P.

The alcove in the front corner, apparently, is dedicated to ice cream.

Notice the random eggs in the refrigerator case! Remember, the dairy department is along the BACK wall, and the wall you see to the right above is the FRONT wall!

Just past the freezer alcove we see what likely used to be the customer service counter. I think that both Fine Fare Belleville and GalaFresh Passaic had the same, also closed-off, area, which makes me think it was a Food Basics thing when they moved the customer service counter.

I think because of this store's layout, I was able to get some decent front-end pictures for once! Also our cashier was really friendly, so big points for that.

You get the feeling that the store is almost about to overflow with merchandise!

The extra-wide deals and ethnic aisle, from the front.

The new customer service counter is located along the front wall of the store, past the registers.

A cart full of returned or rejected merchandise along the front end shows us that the entire fleet of carts at the store is Food Basics holdovers, with no attempt at removal of the name.

But there is a Key Food rug at the exit!

Again, some surprisingly decent pictures of the front end!

Heading outside...
A close-up of the storefront.

The store had its official ribbon cutting on June 3, 2016. I visited on May 15, 2016.

Aside from the stupid name, Farmboy is actually a great store. The produce was particularly good, and the international selections can't be beat in the immediate neighborhood.

Farmboy Superfresh

465 Getty Ave, Paterson, NJ
Open Daily 7AM-10PM
(973) 685-2223
My Rating: