Joseph Pharmacy Defies the Odds to Open A Second Store

By Carol Tannenhauser

In an era when small pharmacies face daunting competition from big chains, it’s remarkable for a mom-and-pop to still be able to thrive. But one local shop has found a way. The well-loved Joseph Pharmacy, located on 72nd Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue, just opened a second store, called Wellness Pharmacy, also on 72nd Street, between Broadway and Columbus.

Why so close together?

“A lot of people never cross Broadway,” said owner Sherif Eltahawy, standing in his bright, well-stocked, new store. “We saw a need that we could fill. We wanted to bring our services to people on the east side of Broadway.”

WSR wondered how this independent, second-generation family business—started by Eltahawy’s father, an Egyptian immigrant, in 1969—managed to survive and thrive for 50 years, while so many other local stores have succumbed to chains, high rents, and online commerce.

Eltahawy attributes his success to an emphasis on customer service.

“We go the extra mile for our patients,” he said.

That includes offering medication and insurance counseling, refill reminders, and personalized monthly blister packs with all of your medications sorted, sealed, and dated, day by day. (There is a small fee, which is waived if you can’t afford it.)

The Wellness team: Sherif Eltahawy and Yelena Matatova in white coats. Essam Bekhit, Manager, and Stan Warren, in blue shirts.

Yelena Matatova, one of the pharmacists at Wellness, personifies the customer service Eltahawy describes.

“When I’m not filling prescriptions, I like to walk around the store, talking to patients about over-the-counter medications,” she said. “As they read through all of the products, it’s nice to be able to turn to someone and say, ‘These are my symptoms. What do you think is the best product I can use?”

“I worked in chain for nine years,” Matatova continued. “It was all about hitting targets, numbers, numbers, numbers. I did not have a chance to communicate with patients, which is why I decided to become a pharmacist in the first place, to give that special time and attention to people.”

Wellness Pharmacy is open seven days a week: M-F, 8 am to 8 pm; Sat, 9 am to 7 pm; Sun, 10 am to 6 pm.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 19 comments | permalink
    1. Drew says:

      Josephs is great now it makes it easier. There’s really no place to buy shampoo,cough meds etc unless you go to Duane Reed where you have to ask people who scratch their head when you ask s question, this is up close and personal.
      My only comment with such s great reputation like Josephs why not keep the name rather than start from scratch to people who don’t know it Josephs.

    2. Ish Kabibble says:

      Great article! Good luck!

    3. Patricia M Corsello Storch says:

      JUST FABULOUS!! Wishing you all much success in the new store…I know you will hit a home run!

    4. Maria says:

      Great store; went there yesterday to shop for a few items. The layout is basically the same as the original Joseph’s, but it is brighter and a little less cluttered (though I like the clutter). Some very good sales. Staff is helpful and nice. I hope the second store is a success, just like the first. Highly recommend!

    5. Kathleen says:

      Joseph is my pharmacy and I love them! I go there now for things I used to buy at Duane Reade or CVS because I would rather support this local business. They give a 10% senior discount on anything not on sale, and their sales are always great. It’s so nice to have a place to go where I know the people who work there and they recognize me. Wishing them much success in the new store!

      • lynn says:

        I had no idea there were senior discounts and I actually had to put a few items back on the shelves when I saw the prices. Odd that they didn’t mention it anything but thanks for bringing it up! Can’t wait to see the new store. 🙂

    6. julie sperber says:

      Joseph’s Pharmacy..Yeh!! Terrific staff. They’ve escaped the horrors of gentrification … good for them!! Wonderful place to get your meds, and shop for other items at highly competitive prices! it’s so fabulous to be able to communicate with very experienced and friendly pharmacists and not have to stand forever in line when you pick up.

    7. Frank says:

      “…between Broadway and Amsterdam”

      Won’t this block access to the IRT, or is it a really tiny store??

      • Carol Tannenhauser says:

        Thanks. Fixed.

      • Stuart says:

        The article states the new store is between Broadway and Columbus – there is no mention of Amsterdam.

        Nice try, but your jokey response doesn’t work if you cannot get the facts straight.

    8. Wiebke Moore says:

      I have been a patron of Jopsehp’s for probaly 20 years or more. I love independent businesses, I am not happy with hig chains, and I count myself lucky to live in my neighborhood. Good luck to th3 second store!

    9. Uwsneighbor says:

      Do you mean b/w Broadway & Columbus?
      The only thing on 72nd b/w Broadway & Amsterdam is the subway station and the little me pain.

    10. Marcia says:

      Congratulations and best of luck. The wonderful service and atmosphere will now be available to our neighbors on The East Side.

    11. Sergio Aguirre says:

      Best service , they know how taker customers,Linda is the best

    12. Elaine Toth says:

      Wonderful Pharmacy. Been using Joseph’s for years.
      The staff and Pharmacist are lovely, caring people.
      I havent walked into a Duane Reade in years.

    13. Sharon L says:

      Yay. So leaving Duane Reade. They stormed the West side and put a lot of small pharmacies out of business
      Now not only bad service they give attitude

    14. LKLA says:

      Been going to the original Joseph’s for over a decade. Having a child for most of that time I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars there. Just wish it was a bit nicer inside – now with the scaffolding outside it’s not very pleasant. Perhaps they will renovate the place once the construction next door is done.

    15. Long time upper west sider says:

      Joseph’s is the best ever and even if people do not cross Broadway, I go 20 blocks south to use them.

      Long time upper west sider