Morning Bulletin: Helicopter Ban Proposed, City Inundated With Delivery Trucks, Fairway on Sale

Photo by Zubin Sundaram, a 10-year-old 5th grader at PS 166.

October 28, 2019 Weather: Cloudy, with a high of 64 degrees.

Concerts, readings, the pumpkin flotilla and other local events are on our calendar!

Two meetings worth watching are coming up. On Monday, the 20th precinct holds its community council meeting, and on Tuesday there’s a Community Board 7 Transportation Committee meeting about the future of curbside parking. We’ll have reporters at both.

It’s time to ban all non-essential helicopters from New York City, Rep. Jerry Nadler and other congressional reps said at a press conference on Saturday. Upper West Siders have complained about copters for years and expanding flights to the airport mean the buzz may only get more intense. But Gothamist points out that previous “attempts to get rid of commercial helicopter flights have failed one after the other. Rep. Anthony Weiner called on the TSA to ban helicopter flights over Manhattan on national security grounds in 2006. In 2016, Councilmember Margaret Chin introduced a bill that would have imposed noise limits on aircrafts, effectively banning the helicopter tourism industry by setting a standard their helicopters could not meet.” Will this one stick?

Delivery trucks have turned New York City into a drop-off station for mega-retailers and supermarkets promising fast delivery of items ordered online. It’s been helpful to some people with disabilities, but it’s also brought pollution, congestion and danger to the streets. Not to mention that small business owners say it’s devastating their shops. The Times has a long story on the issue. “The average number of daily deliveries to households in New York City tripled to more than 1.1 million shipments from 2009 to 2017, the latest year for which data was available, according to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Center of Excellence for Sustainable Urban Freight Systems.”

The new owners of Fairway Market are seeking bidders for a sale. “Fairway Market is for sale again, three years after the quintessential New York City grocery emerged from bankruptcy with new owners. The company’s sponsors, which include Brigade Capital Management LP and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., have begun the formal process of seeking bidders and have received interest from potential strategic and financial buyers, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public.”

And lastly, anyone have the same idea on Sunday?

NEWS | 33 comments | permalink
    1. Anon says:

      I didn’t realize that Fairway was sold 3 years ago! That is just about the time that the meat quality went way downhill. I thought it was part of the effort to get Americans to stop eating meat. (just kidding) That is when we moved to Whole Foods, with much higher quality meat.

    2. B.B. says:

      Mr. John Catsimatidis owner oF Red Apple Group (parent company of Sloanes and Gristedes)in past expressed an interest in acquiring Fairway. Heaven help us if he does get his mitts on that supermarket chain.

      Red Apple now wholly owns DAG,with only one member of the D’Agostino family remains.

      Would hope federal or state anti-trust laws could kick in or something. That is if things go that way.

      • George says:

        If Catsimatidis acquires Fairway, that’ll be the end of my days shopping there. I live just a block from the Gristedes at 84th and Columbus and despite the proximity, I do 99% of my shopping at Trader Joe’s, Fairway, and Key Foods.

        • BMAC says:

          Ah yes, the 84th & Columbus Gristede’s, home of “barely fresh produce” and “that smell emanating from the basement conveyor belt, kinda like death”.

    3. geoff says:

      The UWS Fairway has been a big part of my life since 1978, when it was a fraction of its present size, and the owners used to stand outside, hobnobbing with the customers while Steve, the cheese guy, created the cheese department inside. Most of what I eat comes from there. Keeping my fingers tightly crossed, hoping for the best.

      • Mr.Alarm says:

        I had to adjust to Fairway’s unusual style of food merchandising at first, but their unique, fresh and reasonable food prices won me over. I have bought my groceries for the week there every Sunday afternoon for the past 15 years, and love it.Most NYers are nice enough if you’re nice to them. I met a nice older woman who lives here but is from “the other York, in England” while standing in line. Love their deli, hot bar, organic second floor, and great prices. Okay, I’ll stop shilling for Fairway now!

    4. M says:

      The shoppers at Fairway are awful — mean, aggressive, scary. I tried going several times since moving to the UWS a few years ago. My cart gets slammed, I get yelled at for not already knowing that this line goes that way, shoved for not moving away from the hot food fast enough, pushed for not knowing where everything is already. I’ve talked with many other people who have had the same awful experience with fellow customers and now refuse to shop there as well. Don’t know if the increased overt hostility to non-fairway-experts is part of why the store is losing business but… you people should know how unwelcoming and terrifying you have been. We say Fairway is strictly only for “advanced New Yorkers”. The worst part of the UWS

      • JP says:

        Could not agree more! On top of the aggressive customers, I have as yet to be told ‘excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’ or ‘sorry’ when pushed out of the way by employees! Maybe once or twice one of the cashiers stopped talking to their co workers to say ‘hello, how are you today?’ but that, I assume was an anomaly and I hope the poor girl didn’t get in trouble for being friendly.

      • Addy Vance says:

        Finish complaining already. Don’t just stand there, move!

      • Bill says:

        It’s the neighborhood demographic, not the store. The crowd at Trader Joe’s is just as crude and aggressive and they will stay the same no matter who takes over Fairway.

      • Cato says:

        It’s not just the shoppers (who, I agree, are ruthless and terrifying). You can’t spend two minutes in the store (unless you cower in a corner, which I have been tempted to do) without hearing from behind you “WATCHA BACK!! WATCHA BACK!!” from the staff.

        Shouldn’t *they* be watching *my* back? After all, I’m the one paying their rent. But no. We’re at their mercy.

        I’ve never seen another supermarket operated this way.

    5. Ed Kurtzman says:

      Fairway should have taken a lesson from Westside market at 98 and Broadway and modernized the store, Fairway is so convoluted and probably the most unpleasant market to shop in. A little cleanup wouldn’t hurt either.

      • Sherman says:

        You’ve got a point but part of Fairway’s charm is that it’s so messy and convoluted.

        It doesn’t feel sterile or too corporate.

      • Marilyn says:

        WSM SUCKS!!! All u newcomers prefer klutz to quality and reasonable prices. I see it in co-op blogs too. Cosmetic changes while services are reduced and real quality issues, like mice invasions, are ignored.

    6. Viv says:

      The Upper West Side is desperately in need of any Supermarket.
      Since Westside Market on Broadway and 77th St. closed, shopping has been torturous.
      A decent Supermarket on Broadway may slow down the amount of Fresh Direct etc. delivery trucks and the need to buy from several specialty stores.
      WEGMANS, are you listening?

    7. NBH says:

      Fairway had been in trouble since it went public several years ago. The Glickbergs and their private equity partners took our a pile of cash then. About a third of its balance sheet consisted of intangible assets, mainly “goodwill”. They were taken private again for a fraction of the IPO price when they went into bankruptcy.
      As I recall from their registration statement with the SEC back then, the lease on half their 73St store expired this year. The renewal terms specified rent to go to “highest and best” use.
      FWY is just another overexpanded retailer.

    8. CosmoAndCharlie says:

      I think Wegman’s should buy Fairway and use that as their larger-scale entrée to the city. The Navy Yard store is a great start; here’s an opportunity to buy into other neighborhoods in a bold followup move.

      • Marcia Kaye says:

        OMG: We very much depend on Fairway for its variety, prices, hours and — in my experience — friendly staff, as well as quality offerings. Wegmans? Be careful what you wish for. That’s a huuuuge (bigger than big box), impersonal Costco (with much higher prices) sterile, impersonal marketplace. The grass always looks greener, etc. Keep Fairway quality up and they’ll keep their customers!

    9. Kathleen says:

      When I first moved into the city in 2005 I went to Fairway and swore I would never go back. Since then it has become “my supermarket.” It is messy, and noisy and often crowded and I’ve often wondered if I could make my first million selling t-shirts that say “I survived Fairway!” I have noticed some annoying changes in the past 3 years, like they are constantly moving things around, so I never know where things are anymore. I used to know exactly where to go in that store and now I can’t find anything half the time. They started buying pickles from a new vendor and the deelishious sour pickles I used to buy every week for myself and my family out on Long Island have been replaced with awful tasting dills. Those are my two pet peeves right now. I will miss Fairway if it leaves, but if it does I love the idea of having Wegmans move in!

    10. Marci says:

      I didn’t realize Fairway had been sold, either. But I had noticed that I wasn’t too impressed with the meat at some point and hardly buy anything there (even though we love Ralph and all the other butchers at 74th St). I don’t think I’m up to losing another supermarket.

    11. Ted says:

      Perhaps the sizable rat population that resides in Fairway will mount a bid to takeover the failing market. Cheese anyone??

    12. 3Dk says:

      I wonder why, after all these years, there wasn’t any initiative for a civil class action lawsuit, attempting to prevent the noisy helicopters.

    13. AC says:

      Bring back Westside Market, or even better yet, and this one goes out to that old Upper West Sider , , , Food City! That SE corner space at 80 and B’way remains empty.

    14. Lynn says:

      Agree with the comments about the Fairway at 74th. The employees are pretty rude as well. Everyone at 125th street is much more helpful, and they don’t yell at you for getting in the wrong checkout line which they do at 74th.

    15. jezbel says:

      Two specific comments: 1) I wish either West SIde Market or Wegmans would take a look at Fairway Market – we could use another market in that space. West Side’s old space at 77th & B’ways is still empty and I miss the accessibility. But Wegman’s just opened a new market in Brooklyn & are known for service & diversity. We sure could use a Wegmans.
      2) I agree with Jerry Nadler, the helicopter situation is way out of hand with engine sound seemingly all day and all night. I understand about that because I used to fly in the traffic helicopter as a reporter for WNBC-66 when they had a station. I was one of maybe 3 or 4 “essential” helicopters in the skies in the AM & PM. There was only one sightseeing copter back then and it was “Island copter” out of Wall Street. I can honestly say they had at least one accident a year where they routinely fell into the water. And there were also the sea-planes that landed near Wall Street, one of which was responsible for the death of an Aviation Police pilot who subbed as a pilot with us, WNBC, James Rowley. There is simply no reason for jet helicopters (or even piston) to cut across the City and pollute our days with even more ear assaulting noise. I run a small recording business in my apt near the Hudson and I can even make it all the way through a :30 spot without having to stop, let the noise pass and start again. It’s an assault to the ears. Not to mention business.
      Just my opinion. FWIW.

    16. lauren Lese says:

      Fairway used to be the quintessential NYC store in that the quality, especially of the produce, meats,and cheese was great and the prices low. Customers didn’t mind the chaos and lines because those elements were in place. When it went public, the chaos and lines continued but not the quality. That is not a recipe for success.

    17. B.B. says:

      Wegman’s is never coming to Manhattan; so either drive out to NJ, or Brooklyn.

      Wegman’s doesn’t do “small” stores, and there isn’t real estate large enough in Manhattan below say 125th street to accommodate.

      Even if they wanted to open on UWS, zoning put in place at urging of Gale Brewer makes assembling “super store” size space impossible.

    18. I’ve given up on Fairway and am now doing most of my shopping at Whole Foods. Dishonest fish labeling, salad that is not fresh, and yes, the cashiers, who often overcharge and then grumble when caught. I go to Costco in Brooklyn a few times a year also.

    19. Alec says:

      For those willing to make the trek to the other side of the river, Paramus, NJ just get a Stew Leonards and its awesome (especially for the kids).

    20. sam says:

      Maybe others here have had problems with the 74th St Fairway’s cashiers, but I have always admired their equanimity amid such chaos. The customers are another story, especially the ones who use their carts as weapons.

    21. Ira Kemp says:

      I have shipped at fairway for at least 25 years. At one time I could reconize and talk to most of the staff. What has changed for me is a lot of specialty item thy would carry are gone. Balsamic spaghetti sauce,Spanish hand milled chocolate, Lukes and picholines in the olives. To mention a few. Seems that in a lot of ways fairway had lost its specialness.

    22. B.B. says:

      Troubles began (again) for Fairway after a series of price cutting offers to deal with competition from likes of WF, TJ and a few others.

      Right now nationally well as most local markets (including NYC area) supermarkets are in trouble.

      Rise of WF, TJ’s, Amazon, Fresh Direct and others are putting pressure on traditional supermarket chains.

      Amazon along with other online were already chipping away at supermarkets customer base. Then came CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and similar stores that have morphed into quasi supermarkets.

      These stores sell loss leaders like baked goods, dairy, cereal, packaged goods, household cleaning and other supplies at often lower prices than supermarkets. Rite Aid in particular has better prices on milk than DR or WG, and certainly most area supermarkets.

      When people order toilet paper from Amazon, you know supermarkets are in trouble.

      If all this wasn’t bad enough you have all those street fruit vendors. Many parked right outside a supermarket or on same street.

      Many of the old school NYC supermarkets are union shops. This means their total labor costs are higher than say TJ’s or WF’s.