Food Universe Marketplace
Previous Tenants: ShopRite > Pathmark > Food Basics > GalaFresh Farms
Cooperative: Key Food Stores
Location: 498 E 30th St, Paterson, NJ
Photographed: February 2021
It's just a few weeks since we actually covered the Food Universe Marketplace here in Paterson, with a store tour last month, but I returned to visit the store myself just after posting that tour. And boy, am I glad to have gotten back! This store is looking better than ever after its extensive remodel which I mentioned in the previous tour. The 37,000 square foot supermarket is part of a new push by Key Food into Paterson, a city which many chains have ignored due to its low income level and high crime rate. However, based on Key Food's latest stores here, it's clear they're investing big in the city. (Make sure to check out their other two stores, SuperFresh and Food Fair, along with our other posts today -- the SuperFresh in Glen Rock, just to the north, and Green Way Markets up in Ridgewood.)
Before we jump into the store tour, I want to take a second to point out some upgrades to the property that had been done to coincide with Food Universe's remodel. The supermarket remodeled its own facade, though the rest of the strip mall retains its Pathmark-era facade. I don't believe the supermarket owners also own the property, although it's possible. The parking lot itself has been repaved, and if you look at the past store tour we can see the lot was in very bad shape previously. The dilapidated cart returns have been fixed up with new Food Universe branding as well.
The attractive facade first installed on smaller Food Universe stores has been nicely adapted to the larger storefront here. All excellent upgrades to the outside, and we'll see extensive upgrades inside as well...
We enter on the left side of the storefront with service hot food, bakery, and deli along the left side wall. Seafood and butcher are at the back of the grand aisle, with a large, spacious produce department facing. (It's possible that the first grocery aisle was removed to expand the grand aisle, I'm not sure.) Packaged meats and then dairy line the back wall, with frozen in the second-to-last aisle and the rest of dairy on the outside of the last aisle. A liquor store takes up the former pharmacy department in the front corner.
Inside, we see basically nothing left over from the Food Basics decor! Pretty much nothing left except those black promotional signs hanging from the ceiling which we first saw in our last tour. The produce is beautifully merchandised, as we can see here with several layers of vegetables in baskets for a great look. The selection has also been expanded immensely, with a large organic section as well -- I believe this is the only supermarket in Paterson with a dedicated organic produce department.
The produce department has an awesome outdoor-market feel with the wooden bins piled high with lots and lots of stock (which, by the way, was selling very quickly when I was there), and larger plants around the department. Newly-installed service departments line the left side of the grand aisle, with plenty of local charm...
A big draw here seems to be the hot food bar, which is branded "The Corner Kitchen" and "De La Esquina Caribbean Grille". In bakery and deli, we have more great branding, with the Market Street Delicatessen and the Broadway Bakery (two of the major thoroughfares in Paterson).
This decor is awesome! I haven't seen it in any other supermarket before or since.
The store also clearly does a big business on meat and seafood, judging by the sizes of those service counters. Beautiful butcher on the back wall...
You can sure find whatever cut of meat you want here. Possibly because of the large service counter, the packaged meat section seems a bit small for the store's size. That lines about half of the back wall.
Looking across the back wall for a selection of packaged meat and then dairy at the far end.
Heading into the grocery aisles, we see a lot of stocking going on to prepare for the weekend rush (I was here on a Friday later in the day). The selection is varied here, with an emphasis on Latin and Caribbean items.
We can see here that the shelves are absolutely packed with merchandise. Food Universe has a much, much wider selection of almost everything than the previous tenants.
Seems that the aisle markers haven't quite been updated following the store's reset yet. I think, although I'm not sure, these are the GalaFresh aisle markers with some updated graphics applied onto them.
Aisle 4 looking towards the front wall of the store, with the liquor store straight ahead. I believe the flooring was refinished but not replaced in the grocery aisles. It looks very good nonetheless.
At the back of aisle 5 we can see the transition from meat to dairy on the back wall.
As great as the store looks, I hope the lighting is updated soon. The hanging lights are newer, but the tube lighting embedded in the ceiling is in very bad shape. I believe GalaFresh installed the hanging lights.
Very, very cool decor here in dairy and frozen. Notice that the "D" actually blocks where the security camera would've been (compare that to the other security camera under the m in Farm).
Nonfoods here in aisle 8. We can also get a closer look at the liquor store here. I don't tend to go into liquor stores, but it looks quite beautiful.
Frozen foods in aisle 9, with dairy lining the outside of aisle 10...
I'm fairly certain these cases are left over from Food Basics, but have been newly repainted.
Another look at the liquor store on the front wall.
A look at the front-end, which has been remodeled but still has the Food Basics registers. I'm very glad I got back to this store following its renovation, as it's clearly taking off! (Don't forget to check out my other tours linked at the beginning of the post for today, and come back tomorrow to get on to Essex County!)