Food Bazaar Supermarket
Owner: Spencer An
Owner: Spencer An
Previous Tenants: Waldbaum's (1960s-2010) > Fairway Market (2011-2020)
Location: 242-02 61st Ave, Douglaston, Queens, NY
Photographed: June 2021
I had to make a special trip out to Queens to see some new stores, such as the SuperFresh in Jackson Heights and The Food Emporium in Fresh Meadows, today's other two special reports. But no store was as special as the brand-new Food Bazaar in Douglaston! This store alone was worth the nearly three-hour drive out to Douglaston, which is to the far eastern edge of Queens near the New York City limits, where Queens officially transitions into Long Island. It's therefore a very suburban neighborhood, and its largest retail complex (though unfortunately a somewhat desolate one) is the multilevel AAC Douglaston Plaza. It had been anchored by a 1960s-era Waldbaum's for many decades, which closed in 2010. The space was taken over by famous New York chain Fairway Market, which expanded the space to 56,000 square feet. Fairway was mostly beloved, but poorly managed, and the chain declared bankruptcy in August of 2020. You can see more about the history of the Fairway-to-Food Bazaar transition in my post from the Red Hook, Brooklyn store here. (I was there on day one after the store became Food Bazaar!)
A little less than a year after the store was purchased by Food Bazaar, Douglaston and Westbury (on Long Island) are celebrating their grand re-openings. The stores were extensively remodeled while remaining open and are now a wonderful hybrid of the best of Fairway and the best of Food Bazaar, as we'll see. Red Hook did not hold a grand reopening at the same time, so I assume the remodel there is still ongoing. Any loyal readers of the blog know that Food Bazaar is possibly my absolute all-time favorite supermarket, and this store is full of reasons why. Let's head in.
We enter to the grand aisle, with produce taking up the front half (and a small floral department on the left). Organic produce lines the left side wall of the store. Behind produce is the obligatory NUTZ department, although this store also features certified organic nutz, I mean nuts, and dried fruit and stuff in the organic produce department. Behind nutz is the seafood department and olive/pickle bar on the right side of the grand aisle, with deli and cheese on the left side. Bakery is at the back of the grand aisle, with meats lining the back wall. There are two doorways to the main supermarket, one towards the back of the produce department and one at the back of the store. Food Bazaar simplified Fairway's famously labyrinthine layout significantly. In the main supermarket, we have bulk food in the front left corner, with the grocery aisles divided front-to-back in half. Dairy and frozen are on the far right of the store, with HABA on the left side (near produce). Unlike most Food Bazaars, HABA is actually in the grocery aisles rather than on the front wall beyond the registers. The exit is on the far right side of the store. Now, hold on to your seatbelts and fasten your hats for this tour. This is unlike almost any other supermarket I've been to.
This space is simply gorgeous, for one. The decor we see is a new decor package developed for the converted Fairway stores, which is made of cut metal panels set in front of lit white rectangles. The effect is stunning in person.
Taking a tip from Fairway, this store has maybe the largest organic produce selection I've ever seen in a traditional supermarket. The left side wall of the store, except for some packaged salad mixes, is all organic along with the facing bins. The selection is enormous, and there are some beautiful displays as we see.
And so because of the space, things can be displayed in multiple ways, such as the organic fruit being sold both packaged and wrapped, and loose. I don't like the packaged fruit, so it's nice to have the option of either.
It goes without saying to me that Food Bazaar's produce is almost always top-notch, since I shop there weekly and have almost forgotten how awesome it is. But any time I try to buy produce somewhere else, more often than not I'm disappointed because of how spoiled I've become. Here we're looking towards the front of the produce department. Now we have our first cross-over to the main supermarket...
Behind produce is a selection of refrigerated Korean and Asian foods, something that Food Bazaar brought in to cater to the Korean immigrant community of nearby Little Neck. Fairway wouldn't have had anything like that at all.
Looking towards the back of the refrigerated Korean department, with seafood to the left.
And seafood is behind that. This is the one section of the store I was disappointed in, since Food Bazaar switched it all to self-service except for a case of whole fish and shellfish to the left. Naturally you can still get anything that's out in the self-service case cut to order, but it's a strange choice since Food Bazaar's other stores are known for their massive service seafood departments. The presentation isn't as impressive if it's all pre-wrapped.
Facing seafood is Fairway's famous massive pickle and olive bar. This has been retained 100% from Fairway, as this is not something present in any other Food Bazaar (although I've heard they've started to put some Fairway features into some of their older stores, which is very smart).
Service deli faces the seafood department and olive bar, with Fairway's smoked salmon counter also fully intact. (That's actually something that Village Super Market, which today owns Fairway's five core locations, has removed from some of the original Fairway stores.)
One of Food Bazaar's weak spots has always been cheese, and they've had adequate selections but sometimes pretty slim pickin's in some locations (I've had a hard time even finding goat cheese at my Food Bazaar pre-Fairway acquisition). So Food Bazaar here kept Fairway's cheese program intact, which is very smart. And I've started to see some of the Fairway-originating cheeses trickling in to my local Food Bazaar. But this one goes all-out, with store-made mozzarella and burrata, and imported cheeses for days. (Note that the signage for smoked salmon and cheese on the wall behind the department is left over from Fairway.)
In addition to this case, there's an upright refrigerator case opposite (behind seafood) with probably another 20 feet of cheese. Lots to choose from, and I spent way too much money buying unusual cheeses I've never seen before.
Fairway's famous coffee bar is up next behind cheese, and it used to be self-service but since the coronavirus pandemic Fairway (and now Food Bazaar) has switched it to served to order. The selection, as you can see, is simply enormous. Also, shoutout to the wonderful clerk who was very patient with me, who's never had a cup of coffee in my life, attempting to describe someone else's coffee preferences for a gift and walking me through the flavors and grinds.
Bakery is tucked away in the back corner behind the coffee bar with a lot of artisan breads and so on. But if you are looking for bread at a Food Bazaar, the regular ol' baguette is a really good choice -- and frequently on sale for $1-$1.50. The breads, cakes, and pastries/bagels (under the lit cake sign to the left) are held over from Fairway's program, but Food Bazaar has added another case which you can see the back of at the far left for their typical rolls and bread that are available in other stores.
Turning to the right from bakery, we look across the back wall to the expansive meat department. We can also make a right turn at the end of the case to the right here to move to the area that was previously Fairway's prepared foods bars, and is now under construction.
This is the one part of the store that's not done yet. There's a sushi counter at the back of this section, and a pretty sad-looking hot food bar in the middle, with coffee down at this end. Food Bazaar is not great at prepared foods, so I wonder if this section will be rented out to other vendors like in the LIC location.
The beer department is opposite the sushi/hot food area, with another feature I'm assuming is left from Fairway...
Organic store-made popcorn! Not something you see every day.
Back to the enormous service butcher counter on the back wall of the store. Question: do you think the S and A on either side of the department, spelled out in cut wood, has any meaning? Is it an inside joke of owner Spencer An's initials? What else could it be?
Nonfoods in the first aisle, which is shorter to accommodate the seafood department on the other side of the wall to the left. Note that this shelving is actually lit on each shelf -- which doesn't do much here in the kitchenwares department, but in aisle 2, with clear water bottles? We'll see that in a second, but first we have to see the bulk department in the front corner...
Again, this is entirely a Fairway feature that Food Bazaar has retained. Produce is on the other side of this wall.
As with most stores, the shelving is lit from inside the top panel, but it's much more unusual to see each individual shelf lit. But they certainly knew what they were doing, and it looks gorgeous with the clear water and seltzer bottles.
Polar, my favorite -- and it comes from what you might call my second home, of Worcester, MA. Never looked better than it does here, with the lit shelves! Sadly, my Food Bazaar does not sell Polar seltzer.
Here's a look across the middle dividing aisle of the store towards dairy and frozen at the far end.
Another thing that Food Bazaar took on from Fairway is the outstanding olive oil (and other oil) selection, now under Food Bazaar's Bogopa brand. Shown here are conventional and certified organic Bogopa olive oil, Bogopa grapeseed oil, and Bogopa avocado oil. This, of course, is only an endcap of weekly sale items, and the main selection takes up nearly half an aisle...
Even in something as simple as pasta and sauce, we have everything from locally-made New Jersey sauces to imported Italian pastas. Plus, the refrigerator case we see straight ahead at the end of this aisle is full of fresh pastas -- again, both made locally and imported from Italy.
The international selection seemed a bit smaller here than other Food Bazaars, with only one aisle of international foods. Aisle 10 has Latin foods in the front and Korean foods in the back, shown here. Also notably missing from this store is the main display.
Some additional refrigerated Korean foods are on the back wall, roughly at the back of aisle 10. Aisle 11 is frozen foods...
And of course, frozen isn't left out from the beautiful decor package.
And aisle 12 is dairy, with some additional frozen in the front.
Yes, yes, yes, I know you want it, so here's your Aisle 12 picture.
And the front half of aisle 12 is frozen foods on the inside of the aisle. The outside is dairy and an enormous selection of vegan and vegetarian items (the counterpart to which is in the frozen department facing, which you can see in the below pictures). As we've seen before in other Food Bazaars, much of the wall decor and the aisle markers are made of reclaimed pallets. Pretty cool!
Wrapping up this spectacular store with a look across the front-end...
Everything you see looking up is just gorgeous -- the sleek ceiling fans, the conical LED light fixtures, the gooseneck lanterns in place of register lane markers, the wooden beams over the registers, and maybe most of all the cut plywood pattern over the grocery aisles, which I just barely captured a tiny glance at above. Sadly, I don't have a better picture of it. That's all for this Food Bazaar, but if you want to see other brand-new stores make sure to check out the newly opened SuperFresh in Jackson Heights and the newly remodeled Food Emporium in Fresh Meadows, plus what's coming up next here!