By Laura Weiss
Just-opened Upper West Side food specialty shop Gastronomie 491 owner Nicole Ahronee says, “People are tired of going to Zabar’s,” and that they’re eager for an alternative to the 70-plus-year old food emporium. Gastronomie 491, an upscale eat-in and take-out place, is just a few short blocks away from Zabar’s, which is on Broadway at 80th Street.
“They’re so grateful…having this in the neighborhood,” the auburn-haired owner said on opening day of locals’ reactions to the food, cheese and desserts market that opened March 21 on Columbus between 83rd and 84th Street.
When asked to respond to Ahronee’s contention that people are tiring of Zabar’s, the owners, Stanley and Saul Zabar, said through a spokesman, that people should “see our Facebook page, and our blog, which reveal that Zabar’s is, and continues to be, greatly appreciated by our customers.”
On the night that Gastronomie 491 opened its doors to customers, a steady stream of curious locals trekked in and out. A few were buying. Most were food tourists eying the artfully displayed fresh vegetables and prepared foods like cauliflower au gratin with olives.
“I know the neighborhood,” Ahronee (right) said as she stood in the front of the shop greeting neighbors and friends offering good wishes and gifts of potted plants. “I can feel the energy.”
Laura Weiss, a West Side Rag columnist, is a food writer and journalist. She’s the author of Ice Cream: A Global History (Reaktion Books). You can also find Laura on twitter at @foodandthings.com, or at https://www.foodandthings.com.