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Special Report: SuperFresh - Roselle, NJ

Opened: 2017-2021, reopened June 7, 2024
Owner: Howard Lee / Food World Market
Previous Tenants: Food Fair > Pantry Pride > Foodtown > Food King > A Seabra Foods
Cooperative: Key Food Stores
Location: 550 Raritan Rd, Roselle, NJ
Photographed: June 8, 2024
Great news, folks. SuperFresh in Roselle has FINALLY reopened! The store, which first opened in late 2017, closed in September 2021 during Hurricane Ida, when the storm caused the rear portion of the roof to collapse. This store has the unique distinction that I have probably been to it more times when it was closed -- between then and yesterday, when I finally returned to shop again -- than when it was open, and I've written a truly absurd number of updates about it, in December 2021, April 2022, July 2022, August 2022, September 2022, December 2022, March 2023, July 2023, and one more time in October 2023. As I mentioned on one of those posts, this store even appeared in a dream I had once. Oh boy. But it's finally open, and it's better than ever!
The store officially reopened on Friday (June 7), with plenty of customers streaming in and out when I visited on Saturday afternoon to check out the new store. The roof has been fully rebuilt, of course (and construction of various kinds seems to be ongoing around the strip mall, which is in an unusual rounded shape around a small parking lot). In fact, you can see in some of these the temporary roof coatings and the cones and things still on the roof -- it seems the stores across the strip mall from SuperFresh are getting a new roof, too, as pallets of building materials were stacked on the roof, and some construction was going on at the former Sears Hardware space just across the mall. But the owners, who also own SuperFresh locations in Linden (opened 2019), Belleville (opened 2016), Hopelawn (opened 2020), and Middlesex (opened 2023), plus a Food World in Queens and another SuperFresh coming soon in Highland Park, used the opportunity to fully remodel the store with mostly new fixtures and decor. Incidentally, look carefully in the above picture and you can see the outline of the old Foodtown sign. The strip mall was set to get a new facade when SuperFresh opened the first time around seven years ago, but that never happened. Of course, that's the property owner's jurisdiction, not SuperFresh's.
Our first sign that the layout has changed is that the doors on the side, previously leading to the deli/bakery room, have been covered over and are no longer in use. This area was a great idea but the stars just didn't align for it: this was an expansion into a neighboring storefront that had the deli and bakery along with hot food bar, coffee bar, salad bar, a register, and a small cafe. Of course, the coronavirus nixed most of that (people weren't interested in serving themselves from a communal salad bar and then sitting down and enjoying the food there), so a lot of that was removed before the store closed and was replaced with kitchenwares. Logical enough, but of course that could've been planned different if that was the idea.
So let's head inside and talk about what's changed. The basic setup of the building hasn't changed: it's the same size, and the two entrances at the front and the back leading to the two parking lots are unchanged, and the exit is still between them on the side wall putting customers out onto the sidewalk, from which they can walk to either lot. Inside, though, a lot has changed.
First of all, the store looks great! In the above picture, we're just inside the rear entrance. You can see the front entrance just next to the guy in the white t-shirt on the left side. The registers are on the side wall of the store, off to the left. Deli and bakery are now in the back part of the store near the rear entrance, seen here, with customer service opposite facing the front-end. An expansive produce department takes up most of the front of the store, with floral and nuts/spices in the front corner. Dairy is on the wall that faces the back parking lot; frozen foods line the far-back wall of the store. Meat and seafood are now in the expansion room, a more logical setup. The big change is that the grocery aisles now run perpendicular to Raritan Road, the street that runs right alongside the store. They used to run parallel. Of course, that's a bit of an unusual setup. My impression is that the perimeter, especially the produce department, is much larger and more substantial than it used to be, while the center-store has shrunk. Keep in mind that this store is only 24,000 square feet, after all, so they pack a truly remarkable amount of stuff in this small but mighty store.
The deli and bakery is in part of the old produce department. There's no in-store bakery, but there wasn't prior to the renovation, either. This store has an interesting combination of familiar decor like we saw in some of those stores linked above (see Middlesex for a good comparison, since that one just opened last October) and different decor, like this signage. This area was very crowded, but a lot of that was the grand opening crowds (and obligatory free sample tables).
I worry about these letters. I can just imagine them falling over soon, but we'll see. I think it looks good, though, and I do like the simple and bold signage and color scheme.
And now we can see the whole front part of the store, looking across the produce department.
Another change: it looks like they took out a register to accommodate four new self-checkouts. Hopelawn is their only other store with self-checkouts.
Here's a look across the produce department, looking towards the other entrance. The lighting is well-done. And compare the below photo to my photo on day 2 of the store's operation back in 2017! It looks like the lighting and flooring (Food Fair's original terrazzo) remain, but not much else.
And looking towards the back of the store. You can see the grocery aisles at the back.
There's a set of half-height produce cases dividing the produce department from the rest of the store, which we can see here, and international foods are on the other side. I like how open this part of the store feels, and again, you can see they've filled the space with a lot for such a small supermarket.
Stacks and stacks of apples, a hallmark of most SuperFresh stores!
And here we're looking back over towards the deli/bakery. The registers are just out of frame to the right below.
And here's a look towards the grocery aisles from the back of the produce department.
And an overview from the other side or other entrance...
As we observed when the store was closed, these wooden produce bins are new and custom-made for this store.
Greens and other refrigerated produce on the front wall. This store had a noticeably small selection of packaged produce (things like the boxes of greens), although SuperFresh -- especially this operator -- tends to lean more into loose produce including loose greens and vegetables rather than things in boxes and bags.
Spices, flowers, and nuts/dried fruit are up in the front corner here.
This spot used to be the customer service counter, which has been moved into the old floral department on the other side of the store. The smaller (I think?) floral department has been paired with a larger nuts and spice department here.
Not a bad spice selection!
And this wall curves along with the front wall of the building. For what it's worth, this store had consistently really good produce for the opening (you'd think everyone would have really really great produce for their first day, but you'd be surprised). The other locations are also among my go-tos for produce. Except, for some reason, this store's cucumbers were not great yesterday. There were only seven and some were not great. Everything else, no complaints.
So the first aisle gets wider as it continues on, because of the curved wall. The kitchenwares section has been moved here from the former cafe area. There used to be a few open windows between this section and the deli/bakery room, but now that the meat department has been moved to that area, they're closed up. We'll see why shortly.
And here's the entrance to the meat and seafood room. We can tell where Food Fair's sales floor ended (SuperFresh or some previous tenant expanded into their former backroom space) by the flooring -- here you can see where the terrazzo ends and the concrete begins. The whole floor has been refinished when SuperFresh was closed.
The former deli-bakery room is now meat and seafood, a logical conversion.
Packaged meats are in the former cafe area at the front of this. You can see the windows (and where the doors used to be) at the far right of the below image.
So this area used to be coffee, pastries, and seating. Now it's all packaged meats. Cold cuts and other packaged meat items are to the right.
A few rows of freezer cases are in the middle of this room, with service counters lining the outside.
This signage interests me, because it's kind of a blend between the two recent decor packages. It's more similar to Belleville than Middlesex, though, which is odd because Middlesex just opened last year and Belleville has been open almost ten years. Part of that, I have to assume, is due to the lower ceiling in this part of the store.
As we can typically expect from SuperFresh, this is a pretty serious butcher and seafood department.
The butcher counter is roughly where the bakery used to be, and the seafood counter is where the deli used to be. Middlesex also has a separate room with the meat department, but that's for meat and dairy. There's not enough space in this room to put meat and dairy, so seafood is a logical choice.
Okay, now back through the doorway into the main supermarket. 
Notice the various signage on the back wall directing customers to meat and seafood with the arrows. I don't love this decor on the back wall, but I don't hate it either. The store looks good, but I wish the decor were just a tiny bit more cohesive.
Frozen foods run along the back wall, with upright cases on the back and coffin cases opposite.
Now into the grocery aisles! They're small but very complete, with pretty much a full line of groceries (though of course not nearly the selection of a larger supermarket).
The closest large supermarket is actually the SuperFresh in Linden, although ShopRite, Whole Foods, and ACME in Clark are all relatively close by, along with the ShopRite in Elizabeth.
Here we can see where the back of the produce department transitions into the grocery aisles. The aisles all used to run side to side, the way this one row of international foods does.
Looking towards the dairy/deli side of the store on the back wall.
In addition to the row at the back of produce, there's one international aisle. (Linden SuperFresh has I think six international aisles? But at 60,000 square feet, that store is much larger than this one.)
Just like opening day back in 2017, the aisles are pristine and perfectly-stocked, packed with merchandise. If Linden or Hopelawn, where I shopped last week, are any indication, this store will still be just as pristine years from now.
However, maybe I'm wrong, but it definitely does feel like there's a much smaller center-store selection than there used to be. Still plenty to do your average weekly food shopping, but it feels like there used to be a little more to choose from.
Looking back over to the meat/seafood side of things...
And back over to the front aisle...
The second-to-last aisle has breads and peanut butter/jelly.
Here's a look across the back wall of the store, which is plenty spacious but still has a lot packed in.
It was this back part of the store where the roof collapsed. Obviously, there's no sign of the damage, and the whole store looks nearly like a new supermarket. I don't think many of the fixtures are left over from before the renovation, although a few may be. Many were damaged beyond repair.
And of course, the signature giant displays of canned beans at very cheap prices.
This sign gave me a good chuckle. I get what it's saying -- meat and seafood are this way, then walk straight ahead, but the simple concept of a sign saying straight ahead in the shape of an arrow pointing to the left is pretty darn funny.
And dairy in the last grocery aisle. Dairy used to be where frozen foods are now, with frozen foods in the second-to-last aisle. Notice the abbreviated tree in the smaller space. Stores like Linden have sprawling tree displays in the produce department.
And just beyond the deli-bakery area, we're back up to the front-end! You can see how the entrance is really in the middle of the store, then you can go out either way (to the front or back parking lot). The front end hasn't been changed much and is still pretty simple. Register 1 is to the left at customer service, which is now on the left side. It takes the space of the former floral department, with the floral department in the former customer service department on the right. I don't know the reason for the reversal.
This area wasn't affected by the roof collapse, so I don't believe the registers were replaced. The register lights weren't. Oh, and it's worth mentioning, the rear entrance and this side exit were built when SuperFresh moved in. Previous tenants had the only entrance and exit to the store where the front entrance is now. That's to the right in the above picture. I'm not really sure how any previous supermarkets were set up, but I think it was roughly the same location for the registers.
I am absolutely thrilled that Roselle is back up and running after all these years. And judging by what I see online and what I saw in the store yesterday, I'm not the only one. Oh, but while we're on the subject of SuperFresh, here's some other news! Highland Park, which I mentioned above, is a former Stop & Shop around the same size as this one, and is set to open later this summer (although we all know that construction delays mean it'll likely be much later, since the renovation there is very extensive). Old Bridge, which has a different owner, opens on June 12. Another, in Long Branch, is in a development that broke ground this spring. Beyond that, I don't know of any other SuperFresh locations in the pipeline (although I'm sure there will be more). But Key Food, the retailers' cooperative behind the SuperFresh brand, has been very strongly advertising lately -- specifically on a lot of New Jersey Transit buses.
These ads have been appearing everywhere lately, and not even only on routes near existing SuperFresh stores, making me think there must be more on the way. But they never existed before a month or two ago, and now they're on so many buses.
In fact, when I was visiting the soon-to-open SuperFresh in Highland Park, a bus with a SuperFresh ad passed on Raritan Avenue, the main street in Highland Park. So they're advertising in advance of being there. I saw another on my way home from the Roselle SuperFresh yesterday. And because of where I live, where I drive, and what bus routes I typically take when I commute into New York City, I see a lot of these ads on the 71 and 73. Notably, neither route goes through any town that currently has a SuperFresh, except for Newark (but the SuperFresh isn't near the route the buses take). Obviously, there's some vehicle-sharing across multiple routes, I have to imagine, but I think the goal here is still to just raise awareness about the brand and potentially introduce it to new customers who aren't familiar with it. And given the way things have gone, it seems very likely there will be more and more SuperFresh stores in New Jersey. We can only wait and see! For now, it won't be long before I get to visit Old Bridge once it opens...