FOOD EMPORIUM ON BROADWAY TO CLOSE IN MAY

The massive Food Emporium on the northeast corner of 68th street and Broadway is planning to close in early May. It’s a sudden end for a store that has been a stable presence in the neighborhood for well over a decade.

The supermarket is big and clean, with plentiful aisles of produce, sushi, baked goods and more. But it doesn’t generate a lot of love or loyalty like¬†Fairway, Zabar’s, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. People also regularly complain about the high prices. That said, it has the order and consistency of a suburban market, which can be hard to find in the elbow-to-elbow world of Upper West Side food shopping.

Employees told us the decision was made at the corporate level, and that the store will close on May 4. It’s been around since at least the 1990’s. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., which owns the Food Emporium markets, has been attempting to sell the division. “A&P has tried for at least six months to sell its 17-store Food Emporium chain. Several companies have expressed interest in the 16 Manhattan Food Emporiums and their prime locations, but A&P has not yet named a buyer,” the Bergen Record reported in February.

“The stores are not well managed,” supermarket consultant Burt Flickinger told Crain’s last year, referring to Food Emporium stores. “Customer counts have dropped dramatically over the last 10 years. CVS, for one, is walking all over Food Emporium, offering items such as yogurt, eggs, milk, soup, cereal, condiments at much lower prices.”

No word yet on what will move in to replace it.

One thing is for certain: the Lincoln Square neighborhood is changing faster than almost any other part of New York City. If someone last saw Lincoln Square in 2000 and returns in 2015, it will be almost entirely unrecognizable.

Now check out an awesome Food Emporium ad from 1988 (hat-tip Gothamist):

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 45 comments | permalink
    1. LKN says:

      Sad! Now there are no supermarkets in the west 60s.

    2. Martha says:

      It is sad, as a supermarket in that neighborhood is so necessary, and that store is really pretty. However, I have found the service pretty spotty. Workers are surly (they must hate anyone who walks in there, and I don’t much blame them), so it’s hard to navigate the place. I was in that neighborhood two months ago and hoped to find items I can’t reliably find in the odious Gristedes in my neighborhood. I found all those items. However, the workers were really rude, making me think they hated the management, for, for sure, I hadn’t been anything but polite.

      A friend of mind, a regular at Lincoln Center who often wants to pick up staples not available in his farther uptown neighborhood, said that the workers figure all customers are the wealthy folks who live in or around Lincoln Square. They feel exploited and angry, he said, trying to explain why a simple question will elicit an almost unintelligible answer, but I, although not a regular customer, think that supportive management must be lacking. What about The Food Emporium on Broadway in the upper eighties? I’ve never been there. Does it have similar problems?

    3. Jayla says:

      There’s Western Beef.

    4. Christopher Brooks says:

      Good! Poor management has led to the demise of a place that could have been great. Horrible service, along with shelves depleated of variety, and shoddy merchandizing has resulted in the almightly boot! Good riddance!!! Don’t let the automatic door, that’s on the blink, srpring back to life and kick you on your way out. One could only hope!

    5. Jennifer says:

      Seriously? The only other grocery stores are Trader Joe’s (crazy lines), Whole Foods (crazy expensive) or Pioneer (crazy scary). I love Fresh Direct, but having Food Emporium right here is so convenient when you just need one or two things. What a bummer.

      • Steven Barall says:

        Well the problem is that you only went in there for one or two things. The problem with supermarkets in Manhattan is that people will but one apple or one banana and not $100 worth of groceries.

        • Cato says:

          Are you kidding? With the elimination of all competition, pretty soon one apple or one banana *will be* $100 worth of groceries.

    6. NikFromNYC says:

      If UWSers would stop proudly killing housing development there would be enough professionals in their neighborhood to support such markets. On 110/Bwy the massive student population density affords us not one but four big grocers within casual distance along with several boutique delis, and an all day fruit stand that currently sells a pound of blueberries for two bucks.

      • Cato says:

        Killing housing development? There are new Condos for Bankers going up everywhere (Broadway in the 70’s, Amsterdam in the 60’s….). And the entire Trumpstrosity, one of the most massive housing developments anywhere in recent times, is only a couple of blocks from the now-terminal Food Emporium — didn’t do much for it, now, did it?

        It’s the rampant housing development that has contributed to the influx of uber-rich who wouldn’t walk to a supermarket (or, gasp!, carry a bag of groceries home) when they can take their SUVs to chi-chi Uptown Fairway, or snap their fingers and have FreshDirect deposit their pate’ on their doorsteps.

        The rest of us better get used to buying our milk in the drugstore. Neighborhood supermarkets have been rendered obsolete by the same forces that have made the concept of “neighborhood” obsolete. That’s due in large part to the unrestrained development to which we’ve been subjected.

        • gobot says:

          such a dumb commnet, its not even worth responding too.

          its rich peoples’ fault that Food emporium is closing?

          What the….

          • Mark says:

            Suppose every supermarket that ever existed gave really bad customer service (attitude and the whole lot)? Are you going to quit eating? Sorry, I really don’t feel like walking 5 or 6 blocks out of my hood to go to some overloaded and pretentious costco wannabe to carry 4 bags home with groceries? I’ve never had a problem with any of the employees at Food Emporium and will really hate to see them go. Maybe you are the one with the social problem.

    7. Pasta P says:

      Where am I going to rent DVD’s for $1? And my diet wild cherry pepsi? While the prices were completely insane, it was convenient.

    8. ELJ says:

      The Lincoln Sq store is a dream compared to the one on Broadway between 89th and 90th. It is old, too small for the amount of food and grocery items that they stock, and nowhere near as appealing when compared to the FE at Lincoln Sq and the one on Broadway in the 50’s. I would’ve thought that it would be the first to close. FE’s pricing is strange, some items are competitively priced while others are outrageous. I don’t go in there very often for all of the above reasons. Although I have to say that in general the staff there is friendly and helpful. The checkout time can be frustratingly long but I don’t know where it isn’t. It certainly beats Gristedes which is truly disgusting.

      • Ken says:

        90th / B’way Food Emporium is somewhat odd. They always have items (strangely) not easily found elsewhere – but not often needed – like Gator Aide in almost every flavor, 40% reduced fat Cape Cod chips and every type of cracker manufactured by humans. Weekday staff is pleasant and fast at the register – weekend staff, not so much. The price of their produce is out of control, the bottled water – cheap. Sadly, the rumor is that this location is closing too – then we’ll be left on Bway/low 90’s only with Barzini with their absurd traffic flow at the registers, the disgusting picked-over cheese samples and an owner who stands blocking the exit all afternoon so you have to squeeze around him to exit the store. Still – wouldn’t live anywhere else!

    9. Tommy says:

      Perfect space for a bowling alley!

    10. ScooterStan says:

      The #2 comment above is entirely on-target! Spouse and self, who really enjoy(ed) the convenience of shopping for an after-cinema-supper there, often noted the hostile surliness of staff…and whether that is the result of poor management is debatable.

      After all, as a (retired) 31-year veteran of the NYC high school system, I worked for some of the city’s worst (and weirdest) administrators, YET I, and my colleagues, remained outwardly cheerful and friendly to our students, to each other, and even to those administrators…admittedly, with some difficulty.

      But compare the ‘tude (attitude) of the staff at Food Emporium to the wonderful cheeriness and helpfulness of the staff at Trader Joe’s! Yes, TJ’s lines are long-ish, but they move quickly. And anytime a shopper asks a TJ’s staff-member for help it is almost instantaneous, and given with a smile.

      Hmmm…maybe management does play a role in worker ‘tude!

    11. LJWNYC says:

      Try rolling a baby stroller into Fairway or Trader Joe’s – total nightmare. I never went to FE for the good prices or amazing food, but for the ability to literally MOVE around the store with relative ease. With this gone, I guess Gourmet Garage is the only option (at least until our savings runs out – ha). They better not stick another bank there.

    12. Maya says:

      Really? That is very sad as everything around has either high margins or lines..

    13. David says:

      Good riddance to the Food Extortium. I’ve never actually looked down on people walking into a store before, but that’s how I’ve always felt watching people going in there. Why??????????????????

    14. stuart says:

      When I moved into the UWS back in the mid 1980s there were more supermarkets than the neighborhood really needed. There was a Daitch Shopwell (it later became either a Crazy Eddie or a Wiz, then a restaurant that failed), a Red Apple or two, Dagostinos, and a few too many Gristedes. But they were all ancient stores (like Pioneer) with poor layouts and aisles that didn’t go through the entire length of the store. It was mostly little old ladies who shopped there. I wouldn’t dare go into Fairway because they didn’t carry many national brands or a variety of sizes, and the lines were crazy long. As for the friendliness of supermarket staff in any store, they aren’t being paid to be nice.

      • Ken says:

        “…they aren’t paid to be nice…” ?
        I guess that makes the bad customer service okay? Well now they are not going to be paid to not be nice. Let’s see how that’s working for them.

      • LKN says:

        There was also the A&P on 70th and WEA! It was among that funny little stretch of commercial businesses on WEA that included a Dunkin Donuts/KFC, Jin’s dry cleaners (now on 70th and Amsterdam), and Il Duomo restaurant. Now I think that stretch has a CVS, children’s play-/day-care, and wine shop (?).

    15. TG says:

      This place was doomed as soon as Whole Foods opened to the south and Trader Joe’s opened to the north.

    16. dcortex says:

      This is where John Catsimatidis is needed- not city gov’t.
      A new Red Apple please no more Gristedes allowed

      • Ken says:

        For years there was a large Red Apple on the west side of Amsterdam, just south of 70th where Rite Aid is now. The lines after 6pm were regularly to the back of the store. The patrons used to call it the Rude Apple.

        Nothing changes.

      • Cato says:

        Catsimatidis’s Red Apple Group, which operated his Red Apple supermarkets, bought the Gristedes chain in the 1980’s. I don’t believe there are any more Red Apple supermarkets; he’s operating only as Gristedes nowadays. But they’re one and the same.

        Meet the new boss — same as the old boss.

    17. John says:

      I’ve walked out of this store empty handed more than times I’ve ever stayed & endured the lines & the ‘tude. There are so many more options now than there were in this neighborhood years ago when there was nothing but a worn out bagel shop on this stretch of B’way. Remember Food City on Columbus -70/71st? Couldn’t figure out why the chicken tasted weird – until I saw a guy spraying fro roaches on the shelve over the poultry case. You didn’t have a produce market on every corner. Something else will land here – it’s a good location.

    18. denton says:

      This is terrible that the only real general supermarket in the nabe is closing. Unlike many of the posters, I found the cashiers to be quite pleasant and courteous. They usually are in well off nabes, they hope some old guy like me will take them away and give them a better life. As to the people who find it expensive, I ask, in comparison to what? It’s Manhattan, after all. Thank goodness I have a car, I will have to go to Costco every month instead of every three.

    19. Anna says:

      I can’t believe this. My family has been going to the Food Emp ever since I was born (almost 20 years now) to get our groceries. My dad actually said this makes him consider moving. As for the complaints about the staff, we’ve never had anything to complain about. We’ve had great relationships with the women behind the registers for years and the delivery guys are great. A sad change to the neighborhood, it better not be replaced by the 50th bank in the five block radius.

    20. Chris Brooks says:

      I always said that there was a mismatch with the caliber of folks who live here on the UWS, vs the personnel that man the checkout counters at the store. These clerks are angry with the people who have “made it”, and are successful as a result of hard work and sacrifice. Hey! Wake up and smell the coffee, and get real. This should serve as a motovational device to get with the program themselves! Stop being angry and jealous. You can live the good life too. Do the time, like we all did at one point. Keep your nose in the books and your eyes focussed on the prize. It will all come your way if you work hard enough. Celebrate success! Don’t mock it! You want it too! You can have it! Now wise up, and go for it, Jackie!

    21. Debbie says:

      It is going to be a Walgreens.

    22. Liz says:

      Will be sorry to see this store close. It is more expensive; but the customer service is great.

      With roomy aisles it’s a pleasure to shop there.

      What’s going to replace it — another bank?

    23. liz says:

      Folks — Stop beating up on Pioneer. It’s old school; but it has great prices and probably one of the biggest beer selections around.

      It’s like straight out of the 50’s; but check out their weekly flyers. Place is crazy mobbed on Sat. evenings. They need a traffic cop then.

      Fairway sucks!! Outrageously expensive. Can never find things and help(?)not too helpful.
      Besides who wants to deal with the rat problems.

      Trader Joe’s — staff extremely friendly and helpful. But shopping is a nightmare. You are constantly elbowing or been elbowed out of the way to get anywhere near the item you want to buy. Plus, they only sell TJ brand.

    24. Amy says:

      No tears. Every Food Emporium I’ve shopped in has the same problems…high prices, indifferent or rude staff, and I’ve had more than one package of meat go bad prematurely.

      Hopefully another grocery will take its place.

    25. naro says:

      No doubt the supermarket will be replaced by another awful clothing chain store, or as I like to call it another “China distribution center.”

    26. Kate says:

      This is terrible news. It’s a lovely store, huge by Manhattan standards. I can’t stand the cramped mess that is Trader Joe’s or Fairway. This Food Emporium is big, spacious, with a good selection, and friendly staff. (I suspect those that have a problem with the staff are the same blowhards posting stuff like “This should serve as a motovational device to get with the program themselves! Stop being angry and jealous. You can live the good life too. Do the time, like we all did at one point.”)

      I wish another similarly sized grocery store will replaced this UWS gem.

    27. funnyguy says:

      Who cares about customer service and ‘tude. It’s a frigging supermarket. If you can’t find what you’re looking for by walking the aisles and looking at the signs, then you’re retarded. Staff makes minimum wage. If you’re the typical obnoxious, pretentious, self-absorbed left-wing UWSer, and you’re barking at the staff, then you deserve to get the back-hand.

    28. Robin says:

      Western Beef is a horrific alternative to the UWS Food Emporium. Based on the most recent health inspection by the city you’re safer eating off the the floor of a subway car!
      https://www.westsiderag.com/2013/03/27/eye-opening-health-inspection-results-revealed-for-uws-grocery-stores-check-out-the-map

    29. SAVE THE SUPERMARKETS says:

      ONLY YOU CAN SAVE THE REMAINING SUPERMARKETS

      It’s up to you dear readers by shoping in them.

    30. David Schleim says:

      Good riddance! This store still smelled like a supermarket. It’s gross, for old people, stuck in the eighties. The world has moved on. Shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Fairway Organic. Eat well, shop in places that don’t stink, and live in the new world.

    31. Jen says:

      Really sad that the Food Emporium is closing. I have had positive experiences with the staff. Actually frequently it is the customers who are rude and nasty…the tsunami of the wealthy people has, sadly, brought many entitled people to the neighborhood.

      So we are now all suposed to wait on even longer lines at Trader Joe’s, Fairway and Whole Foods? More stress just to purchase food?
      Where will the elderly shop now?

      Century 21, the Apple Store and Trader Joe’s along with ongoing luxury development have completed the ruin of the neighborhood.

    32. wende green says:

      PLEASE DON’T CLOSE!!!!!!! WE NEED FOOD ON THE UPPER WESTSIDE!!

    33. Janice Wetzel says:

      I learned that Walgreens is replacing the Food Emporium. That leaves Lincoln Square without a standard supermarket. It’s appalling!