Morton Williams Supermarkets
Owner: Avi Kaner
Previous Tenants: none
Cooperative: none; supplied wholesale by Wakefern
Location: 105 River Dr S, Newport, Jersey City, NJ
Photographed: December 2020
We're here in Newport Green, a waterfront development located basically on top of the Holland Tunnel (which connects Jersey City to Manhattan), to tour New Jersey's only location of Manhattan-based chain Morton Williams. While I can't find the exact square footage for this store, I'd estimate it's in the 30,000 square foot range. It's located just over a half mile from the ShopRite of Metro Plaza, though that's a pretty awful half mile to walk or drive. It's closer to a quarter of a mile from the next chain supermarket to the north, which appears to be the preferred store as it was crowded while this store was absolutely deserted -- and that store, which we'll be touring tomorrow, is much easier to get to from this neighborhood.
We enter to bakery in the front left corner, with deli and seafood lining the rest of the left side of the grand aisle. Produce and cheese are on the right side of the grand aisle, with frozen foods in the second-to-last aisle and dairy on the outside wall. The store is deep, so the aisles are split down the middle.
I'm struggling to place the age of this decor. It's been here since at least 2012, and it somehow simultaneously looks sleek and modern, and 40 years outdated. Quite the accomplishment for a decor package that hardly has any decor. Because the store itself only dates to 2010, I'm assuming the decor package was original to the store.
Service deli after the bakery on the left side wall of the store. I guess this store does have one thing going for it -- it's the only supermarket in Jersey City one could accurately describe as spacious. And spacious it is...
Certainly a beautiful cheese counter. But the grand aisle could be literally half this width and you wouldn't notice a thing.
Okay, so my apologies for the negativity here. But I knew while I was in the store this decor package really doesn't work (and, for the record, Morton Williams has moved on to various newer decor packages, such as this one). It's not until I go back and look at the pictures that I can pinpoint exactly why it doesn't work. One of the problems is that it's completely monotone -- all the walls, ceiling, and backsplash are white or beige. You can have a neutral wall, for instance, if you then use a brightly colored backsplash behind the service counters. White walls look far better with a black ceiling, too. But let's take a look at the decor we can see here for a second to see a second, more subtle problem. What the heck are we looking at in these pictures on the walls? The New York City skyline, some lobsters, and a dark photo of some shellfish? You absolutely never mix area photos with food photos. ACME's Quality Built decor package doesn't feature any food photos, and the stunning CitiGrocer sure doesn't put pictures of historic Elizabeth alongside the food photos. And sorry, but neither of those food photos look appetizing in the slightest. For the record, here's an example of a well-executed neutral decor package, this one done by DY Design. There, notice the brightly colored tile accents behind the service counters, the attractive and brightly colored food photos, and the wood trim running around the entire store tying it all together.
Moving on to the back wall, we can see that the store is relatively narrow. Great flooring, by the way -- that's the one aspect of the decor I really do like. The service butcher counter looks long closed here.
Moving into the aisles, we see that the shelves are beautifully stocked and the aisles are pleasantly clean and free of clutter. My complaints with the store mostly have to do with the design of the store, not its actual operations -- other than it being rather expensive (to be expected in this neighborhood), this is a very well-run store. But to briefly dwell on another decor element -- those aisle markers are just a mess. Who let that happen?
Nonfoods aisle up next, also looking very good. Notice that this store sells ShopRite brands (see the ShopRite brand items on the left and Paperbird paper products on the right). This is the only Morton Williams that directly competes with a ShopRite, although they do compete with Village Super Market-owned and Wakefern-affiliated stores in Manhattan including Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market.
The decor and design improve immensely as we get into frozen foods, with a very cool hanging circular sign in the middle of the aisle and, most importantly, color contrasts with the black cases here.
Looking across the middle dividing aisle back towards the grand aisle. In the back of the dairy aisle, we see a pleasant surprise in the refrigerated cases...
A very impressive selection of refrigerated Asian groceries, certainly larger than the average chain supermarket's selection! This probably saves local residents a trip out to 99 Ranch or Asian Food Markets.
Dairy lines the outside wall of the store here, with floral and a manager's office in the front corner. (Another strange thing... unless I just missed it, there's no customer service counter here or even a manager's stand on the front-end.) A cafe takes up the space in front of the registers.
That's all for this Morton Williams! Tomorrow we have a DOUBLE-ACME post... so come back here to The Market Report to check out the ACME stores here in Newport, Jersey City along with the one just to the north in Hoboken!