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TOUR: Food Universe Marketplace - Fresh Meadows East, NY

It's the store you've all been waiting for! Or maybe not, I don't know. Anyway, this store started out in the 1950s as a Penn Fruit. It was later converted to Hill's and then Waldbaum's, receiving a light Fresh 2.0 renovation around 2005ish. Owned by Key Food member Shri Persaud, this store joins two Key Foods, two Food Universes, and a Green Acre Farms in Brooklyn that he also owns. Persaud purchased the store in the 2015-16 bankruptcy of Waldbaum's parent A&P. And although the Food Universe banner was originally created to ease the acquisition of approximately 50 former Associated stores across the city, and continues to be used in Associated Supermarket Group conversions, it is also used in other instances, typically for larger, suburban stores in the city. This store is a whopping 30,000 square feet -- nearly double the size of the Bayside Food Universe. Enough talking, let's head in and see the exposed arch roof in all its glory!
The first aisle, being partially in what appears to be an expansion, is under a drop ceiling but you can see the exposed arch to the left. The only decor change Persaud has made in this building is painting the walls blue, which honestly is a pretty good choice consistent with the Food Universe branding. The A&P Fresh decor is still intact.
The store, like many of its era, is much deeper than it is wide. Produce runs along the entire first aisle and one side of the second.
You can see the division in the flooring where the expansion meets the new store. There is very little decor on the walls, which you can see too.
There is a rather awkward corner at the back of the first aisle that's kind of an expansion of the produce department, though I wonder whether Waldbaum's had something else back here long ago. We're looking at the back wall of the store. Meats run along that wall to the left.
Waldbaum's Fresh 2.0 pictures and aisle markers intact! Although these meat cases have been installed by Food Universe, as they are noticeably different from the rest of the cases in the store and the traditional panel along the top is a different color (see the previous picture for comparison). And what's that you say? You need to use the restroom? But of course. You'll have to walk through the backroom to get there though...
It's rare when we get to see the backroom but we do here! Note the Waldbaum's sign still on the dairy cooler door.
Heading back to the sales floor, we see frozen foods with very new cases in aisle 4.
Meats along the back wall, with dairy, deli, and bakery in the last aisle.
And I almost left this section without any other pictures. But then I saw this on a bakery shelf.
Pathmark! At some point this store must have received Pathmark bakery labels instead of Waldbaum's. This could have happened -- my grandparents' town had a Pathmark and an A&P. Both stores usually gave out Pathmark bags. Now for a look at the grocery aisles...
Now THIS is the money shot! I love it! And the ceiling is in such good repair! Notice that the lighting is all on the shelves and coming in through the windows, I wonder whether the store gets very dark at night.
This is the only place in the world where you can to this day find Waldbaum's aisle markers hanging from an arched Penn Fruit roof.
I loved this store's architecture so much, absolutely worth a visit if you are in the area. It's a pretty solid supermarket, too. But worth it just for the arch roof.
You can see the Waldbaum's lettering has been removed from the front-end. Otherwise pretty much original except for the tiny area of blue wall you can see to the far left. One more Food Universe tomorrow as we head towards the western part of Fresh Meadows, then two more stores before we wrap up this section of Queens!

Food Universe Marketplace

196-35 Horace Harding Expwy, Fresh Meadows, Queens, NY
Photographed July 2018

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