Food Universe Marketplace
Previous Tenants: ShopRite > Pathmark > Food Basics > GalaFresh Farms
Cooperative: Key Food Stores
Location: 498 E 30th St, Paterson, NJ
Photographed: August 2019
Yesterday's rather depressing store tour is as good a transition as any to today's success story. Built in 1965 as a ShopRite, this store became a Pathmark in 1968 when its owner, Supermarkets General Corp., split from the Wakefern cooperative. When Pathmark was purchased by A&P in 2008, the 37,000 square foot store was deemed too small to remain in the Pathmark group, while its profitability was slipping in a somewhat economically depressed neighborhood. The store was converted to a Food Basics, A&P's discount banner, with the removal of all the service departments. (The pharmacy, however, was kept.) In the 2015-16 bankruptcy, this and the nearby Van Houten Food Basics in Passaic were sold to Aurora Grocery Group, which operated them as Gala Fresh Farms. A total remodel in Passaic proved less influential than the operators had hoped, with the store closing in 2018. And when Paterson proved similarly unsuccessful, instead of a renovation, it was sold to a different operator in the spring of 2019. That operator (whose name I have not been able to track down), began a major renovation over the summer of 2019, extending well into 2020. The renovation has encompassed the re-addition of service departments along the left side of the grand aisle, as well as turning the pharmacy into a liquor department. The exterior was also remodeled. A video posted on Facebook from a local city council member shows a great in-renovation tour of the store, along with the owner whose name I can't decipher from behind a face mask on a cell phone video. (The city council member unfortunately identifies the store as a former A&P and Foodtown, while the owner politely corrects him to Pathmark and Food Basics.)
I did, however, manage to get to the store before the Food Basics decor came down! The first aisle has produce on the left side and meat on the right side of the grand aisle, and the bakery and cold cuts areas shown here are only packaged items. The new service departments line the left side and back of the grand aisle, while the former meat cases lining the right side of the grand aisle are now filled with produce.
If you look at the selection here, Food Universe has expanded the produce offerings beyond the discount store assortment that Food Basics and Gala Fresh would've sold. This wall is now lined with bakery, deli, and hot food.
Meats (now produce) lining the opposite row of cases. You can see Food Universe's new promotional signage, but you can also get a glimpse of the Gala Fresh aisle markers still in place. That's one of the very few upgrades Gala did here.
Today, this entire stretch has been converted to a huge butcher counter along the back wall. The left side wall has a service seafood department. Several very good interior pictures are available on Google Maps.
Here you can see that the Pathmark service department backrooms remained behind the self service cases, which have been reopened. The cases seen here are new and being prepared for installation. Notice that about half of the cold cuts illustration has fallen down.
Former frozen meats area which has since been expanded into a full service butcher shop. This back aisle is very narrow, I don't know if that's changed post-renovation.
First grocery aisle with Food Basics (possibly even Pathmark-era) shelving still intact, not sure whether that's been changed either.
Food Basics' double-wide sales aisle remains, now stocked with chips and drinks.
Frozen meat and dairy along the back wall with Food Basics decor remaining. It's since been removed, and new custom decor has been installed that I haven't seen elsewhere. See butcher, seafood, and deli.
Here we can see the wall painted green by Gala Fresh, where the pharmacy was.
Former pharmacy area temporarily blocked off while the liquor department is being installed...
Frozen foods with a combination of Gala Fresh and Food Basics category signs.
The nonfoods aisle at the far end of the store was looking a little sparse. It's possible this aisle was being cleared out for a reset at the time of my visit.
Dairy lining the last aisle.
We find the front-end largely unchanged from both Gala and Food Basics...
Lane markers installed by Gala Fresh, but the thank you sign from Food Basics remains (missing a p and a t, though). The Food Basics lettering at the end was taken down and replaced with a Gala Fresh logo, which has since also been removed. I intend to return to this store someday to check out the new renovation, since there's a lot of potential here and the investments the owners have made so far look fantastic. This wraps up our Paterson coverage, and tomorrow we're moving on to Clifton just to the south over on Grocery Archaeology!