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Special Report: SuperFresh - Downtown Clifton, NJ

SuperFresh (future)
Owner: Kevin Kim
Opening: 2023
Previous Tenants: Grand Union > Rite Aid
Cooperative: Key Food Stores
Location: 435 Lexington Ave, Clifton, NJ
Photographed: January 5, 2023
Lots of special reports today and updates tomorrow, so we have a lot to cover! We're going to take a quick look at this store in downtown Clifton, New Jersey, which was actually built as a Grand Union. I'm not clear on when GU closed, but it became a Rite Aid in the early 2000s, which later closed in 2018 when Walgreens bought the location and combined it with their existing store nearby on Main Avenue. See a picture of the Rite Aid in business, and more history, here.
Key Food announced in late 2022 that this store, along with one other in Passaic (more on that tomorrow), was set to become a SuperFresh. The roughly 17,000 square foot building has begun its renovations to prepare for SuperFresh's opening. According to news coverage so far, the store will be owned by Kevin Kim, who owned some of the very early SuperFresh stores (such as Edison), was no favorite operator of mine because of his many store failures and what seemed to be absolutely terrible management at the stores. However, after closing or selling all of his stores, he took over the SuperFresh Food World in Bloomfield, NJ in 2020, rebranding it just SuperFresh. I was just in that store recently and found it extremely clean and nearly perfectly-stocked in all departments, with no clear signs of failure. Management was very present on the sales floor and seemed to be actively helping customers. I'm not entirely sure what changed, but going on three years into Kim's ownership of that SuperFresh, I'm still very impressed by it. Let's hope these new locations are held to a similar standard.
From the outside, the store still looks like a closed Rite Aid, much like it has for the last four years. Of course, the Rite Aid signage has all been painted over, but it's not like it's not visible. And signage in the windows still advertises the space for lease, as well as the closure of the Rite Aid...
But if we look inside, we can see that the work is progressing well to convert the space from a drugstore to a supermarket. It'll be a small supermarket, with the largest sales floor area apparently dedicated to produce, but a supermarket nonetheless.
This store's similarity to the upcoming SuperFresh in Old Bridge makes me wonder if that will also be owned by Kevin Kim, although I don't have any confirmation on that. At around 25,000 square feet, that store is larger than this one.
Work is clearly ongoing, just not at the exact time I was there.
Here's a higher-up shot from a window next to the entrance (I had to work hard to get to a window that wasn't covered up) that gives an overview of the whole space. Note that this store is around 0.6 miles from the Botany Plaza SuperFresh, and a mile north of the downtown Passaic SuperFresh, which are under different ownership.
Some more SuperFresh updates:
  • The Glen Rock store has changed its deli fixture from full-service glass display cases to higher self-service cases similar to what Food Bazaar has in its stores. So there's still a service department, but most of the display is self-service.
  • No noticeable changes at Clifton, Paterson, Belleville, or Linden from my latest visits. Clifton and Belleville were very crowded on a Sunday afternoon, Glen Rock and Paterson were absolutely deserted. I visited Linden on a Tuesday afternoon and it was busy enough.
  • Roselle's structural work is done and for the first time in over two years, when I stopped by recently, the lights were on inside. Still no fixtures or decor going in, but the building looks like it's ready to receive them. Pictures coming soon.
  • The Fine Fare at Broadway and 179th in Manhattan apparently has some signage for SuperFresh inside, so if it's not a mistake, it may be soon to switch to SuperFresh. I believe it is the same owners as the Glen Rock SuperFresh.
  • I received a free 2023 calendar at the Belleville SuperFresh Food World. Unfortunately, the December 2023 page wishes all Food Bazaar customers a merry Christmas. Unless there's some big plan for Food Bazaar to take over the SuperFresh and Food World stores by December 2023, that's a typo. A careless and extraordinarily embarrassing one, but a typo, I assume, despite the fact that Food Bazaar also publishes a calendar that's completely different from the SuperFresh/Food World one.
  • The Middlesex store has officially been announced as "opening 2023" from Food World, and at my latest visit, the Price Saver signage was still up outside but the windows had been fully covered, making it impossible to see what, if anything, had been done inside. Pictures coming soon.


  1. While not certain, given their bankruptcy in 2001, it would make sense it was open as GU up to that point (being you suggest it became Rite Aid in that same time range, as they would sell any store that had a buyer interested).

    1. Oh, that's a very good point. I hadn't thought of that. I do wonder, though, if such a small old Grand Union in such a dense urban/suburban area so close to their headquarters would have made it all the way to the end like that.


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