Fairway Will Live On Under Agreement Announced Thursday — In Name At Least

Fairway will stay Fairway, said the company planning to buy the chain’s flagship location on 74th Street and Broadway and four other Fairway stores in Manhattan.

Over the next few months, judges and business leaders will rule on debt payments and store sales, but at the spot where it all started, the name Fairway will live on, according to a statement issued by the potential buyer, Village Super Market, Inc., late Thursday. Village Super Market owns and operates 30 ShopRite stores in New Jersey, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

”Like Fairway, Village Super Market is focused on providing fresh and prepared foods and plans to retain the Fairway name and operate the stores in the tradition New Yorkers have come to know and love, ensuring Fairway remains the unique, one-stop shopping experience and ‘The Place To Go Fooding.’”

Wait, don’t they mean “Like No Other Market”?

This is the second time Fairway has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Abel Porter, Chief Executive Officer at Fairway Market, said “After careful consideration of all alternatives, we have concluded that a Court-supervised sale process is the best way to meet our objectives of preserving as many jobs as possible, maximizing value for our stakeholders, and positioning Fairway for long term success under new ownership.”

The sale to Village Super Market is a so-called “stalking horse” agreement that allows other bidders to step in. So it’s not a done deal yet. But the agreement is a first step in a week when Fairway appeared to be going out of business altogether.

FOOD, NEWS | 64 comments | permalink
    1. UWSmom says:

      To Village Super Market: Please, get on retainer as part of the deal, the olive oil, rotisserie chicken, butchers, seafood, and smoked fish people.

    2. L says:

      maybe if they didn’t use “food” as a verb as their motto none of this would have happened

      • Nathana Josephs says:

        L – Could not agree more. How many words are in the English vocabulary. The second I saw “The Place to go Fooding,” I realized that whoever is in charge of Fairway now, has absolutely no idea about the brand. They have no idea who their target market is, and was so insulted by the obvious lack of vision and focus at the store. Can’t wait for it to turn over to some food professionals again, soon. Dan Klores PR really screwed up this time..

      • Douglas Feinstein says:

        The flagship store is a neighborhood institution. I’m glad they’re staying. That said, their rebranding campaign – “The Place to Go Fooding” – was a colossal waste, no doubt designed to woo suburban millennials. Their prices, especially for prepared foods like soups, meats, poultry and seafood, are extremely high. And the “layout,” such as it is, continues to be a disorganized mess. Given the alternatives, it’s still the best market in my nabe.

        • Maggie Mahar says:

          I live a block away and have shopped at Fairway
          for 30 years.

          Under the old owners, the food was excellent.
          After they retired & sold, the quality went downhlll
          sharply.
          And as you say the new Fairway has been
          overcharging for many items.

          But I’m not hopeful that a company owned
          by Shoprite . I doubt it’s going to offer
          the v. high quality fresh products
          (produce, cheeses, fish or meat)
          the Old Fairway offered.

          But Trader Joe’s is just a block away.
          Good quality (if not as quite good as the old Fairway)
          and good prices (much lower than Fairway’s prices.)

          The only problem: more and more people will be shopping at
          Trader Joe’s which means the lines will be even longer!

          Still, there’s always Citarella: expensive, but v. high quality.
          And did you know that if you call Citarella for delivery someone
          who works in the 74th St. store actually picks out the items?
          You can also find out when you call if something you want is
          available that day.

          Citarella doesn’t use the terrible shopping services that
          get the order wrong, make substitutions, or pay little attention
          as to whether items are fresh, damaged, etc.
          Totally worth the money to pay for delivery from Citarella.

          • Billy Amato says:

            I’ve been living here 52 years!
            Citarella is high-end gourmet all the way and the best quality food you can buy anywhere.
            I shop there every week for my lobster/shrimp/swordfish/crab and Red Snapper when they have it and not to mention the fillet mignon and New York strip & porterhouse steaks and did I say sirloin burgers….not to mention Zabar’s both have the best of the best and right here on our Upper Westside.
            Did I forget to say super clean stores and very kind employees that will even do your shopping for you.
            We’re very fortunate to have Zabar’s and Citarella.

            • EBS says:

              Citarella isn’t for weekly grocery shopping. At least not for normal people. It’s extreme luxury.

            • Gourmet says:

              EBS….
              I shop Zabar’s and Citarella daily and I am a ’normal people’ (LOL) and so are most of my neighbors who I shop with at Citarella & Zabar’s are ‘normal people’ …At least the last time I spoke to them they sound normal.
              I think you may want to rephrase what you’re trying to say…. luxury = gourmet…maybe?
              Both establishments have a very high-end quality for food and specialties…(hard to find). I would not call them very expensive… I would call them ‘normal people’ pricing for what they are offering.
              Maybe Fairways should’ve focused a little more to who and what they’re selling and to the neighborhood market, it’s not 1937 anymore. Even though some of you people sound like you are…. Fairways lost it and maybe should’ve taking a few lessons from Zabar’s and Citarella then maybe they wouldn’t find themselves in this predicament they got themselves into.

              Let’s see what the next group does, it will be very interesting anynhow.

        • Maggie Mahar says:

          Trader Joe’s is better than the current Fairway.
          Better products, lower prices.

          It’s about 2 blooks away- same neighborhood.

    3. Mary McCorry says:

      Once again, the private equity vultures buy up a thriving business, expand it irresponsibly by piling it up with debt, engorge themselves with profits paid for from debt and then declare bankruptcy, stuffing the creditors, the customers, and destroying the good name of the original company which was what the vultures traded on the first place. I’m so disgusted with predatory capitalism.

      • Steve Friedman says:

        Here Here!!! AND THEY’RE CELEBRATED!! And too many of us shrug it off like lemmings in lockstep.

        • Ye Olde Englishe Teachere says:

          Re: “Here Here!!!”

          Awww, c’mon! It’s “HEAR, HEAR!” from England:

          Or, as G.O.G. (Good Old Google) explains:
          “Hear, hear is an expression used as a short, repeated form of hear him/her. It represents a listener’s agreement with the point being made by a speaker.”

      • UWSer says:

        It should be pointed out that the owners of Fairway, chose to sell it in 2007….they took the private equity money and retired. Nobody forced them to take the money!

        • True New Yorker says:

          I am fairly confident that that the people who make the boldest and most extreme statements about private equity, probably know the least about the private equity business and the value it provides to e.g., pensions, fire people, police, teachers, etc.

          And, if you were to read the backstory with this business, the greedy PE narrative is not the story here.

        • Maggie Mahar says:

          The old owners were individauls who sold
          because they were at an age when they
          needed to retire. (While they owned it
          they were often on site, actually working
          in the store.)

          They didn’t “take the money & run” as you
          suggest. (One was a close friend of a friend.)

          • UWSer says:

            I am sorry if I seemed to suggest that the previous owners did anything wrong whatsoever. They had every right to sell their business for whatever reason for as much as they possibly could. And I love Fairway and hope they are enjoying their retirement, they built a great business. I was just trying to say that a lot of comments seem to decry private equity while ignoring the fact that in this instance, they were probably willing to pay a higher price than any other possible buyers, they aren’t inherently evil!

      • Marc says:

        Once again, Who is the prey? Who was coerced into something they didn’t want to do?

        Profits paid for from debt? I don’t think you understand how this whole thing works.

        And if you’re so disgusted – what are you going to do about it?

        • Matt says:

          https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-01-23/fairway-was-mismanaged-and-looted-by-private-equity

          ^A good explainer on the chain of events that led to this. The previous PE firm tried to aggressively expand the store into new locations despite having no experience doing so, loads up Fairway’s balance sheet with debt, takes the company public to raises money, but instead of using the proceeds to clean up the balance sheet they put it back into their pockets. Am I missing something? Agree that no one was coerced into doing anything, but unfortunate to see it happen. There is no value created, just extracted.

          I suppose the only direct prey would be the buyers from Fairway’s initial IPO who thought the new (Now old) management had a concern or plan, rather than just wanting a quick exit after getting in over their skis in a business they didn’t know much about. And indirectly, it will probably hurt the UWS since the flagship store may not survive in its current form, which is a real loss for the local consumers who’ve benefited from its excellent food and variety for generations. Sorry, but you’re just not getting as good of a product at Whole Foods.

          I suppose if you want to do something about it, you could take it your complaint with that firm (though they’ve exited the company by now):

          Sterling Investment Partners
          285 Riverside Avenue, Suite 300
          Westport, CT 06880-4806
          P (203) 226-8711

      • Alan Flacks says:

        D’accord.

    4. Janice says:

      I hope they keep it the same if this happens. Meaning same food choices.

      And also hope they keep the 74th Street AND Harlem branches open (but it seems they’re only planning on taking over the 74th Street store).

    5. Adam says:

      I wonder if it will remain the same Fairway we know and love.

    6. Keith says:

      I wish the new owners would bring back Steve Jenkins. When he was there, the store was at its best. Truly like no other market.

    7. Barbara Litt says:

      I will be so thankful to anyone who buys Fairway. I am a loyal customer. Yes, there still are loyal customers! Oh sure, occasionally I drop by Trader Joe’s, but there is no market like Fairway–except for kosher cheese, which is waaayyyy to expensive there and cheaper at Trader Joe’s. THANK YOU, SHOPRITE!

    8. Miki Fiegel Picinich says:

      What about the uptown Fairway at 130 and RSD?
      Will that remain?

    9. Weird That Way says:

      Yes, to keeping the olive oils, cheeses, and coffees — and I sure hope they retain the upstairs organic departments. Ready-made foods could use a big upgrade imho. The new owners should consider holding a focus group where long-time Fairway shoppers can offer advice.

    10. Marion Harris says:

      Has never been same since family sold out. Overpriced and not as clean. I have no allegiance and sorry, could not care less. Trader Joe’s fine for this senior who previously enjoyed West End Superette too.

      What has FW given back to community? Chopped liver? Would welcome a real supermarket with realistic pricing. Gourmet? Feh. Gimme a bagel that ain’t priced like gold!
      Gimme what seniors who supported the store deserve!!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        you’re a spitfire! agree 100% with the “Gourmet? Feh.”

      • Maggie Mahar says:

        Absolutely true.

        After the old owners (who were often onsite)
        retired, Fairway became dirty.
        Also, the old cashiers (woman who mainly came from the same
        Cairribean island) were replaced by far less
        efficent cashiers who probably were not paid as
        much).

        Most importantly, the food went downhill.
        Produce was no longer as fresh,
        Fish, meat & chicken were occasionally spoiled.

        Hint: if you want truly fresh good fish, go to Citarella, next
        door.
        For meat, Trader Joe’s is better than the current Fairway.

    11. LOIS S says:

      KEEP THE 125TH STREET FAIRWAY OPEN! WHY CLOSE A GREAT STORE WHOSE PARKING SPACES ARE ALWAYS FULL? WHY CLOSE A STORE THAT NEW YORKER LIKE AND PATRONIZE?

      WHY DEPRIVE ITS GREAT STAFF OF JOBS? WE LIKE FAIRWAY! WE SHOP AT FAIRWAY!

      WE WANT FAIRWAY TO REMAIN OPEN AND THRIVE!

    12. Mr.Alarm says:

      “Brand-loyal” customers like me are grateful for every chance we have to shop at Fairway. Thanks for this update, hope it works!

    13. lubomir Firko says:

      I think I remember it when used to be open 24/7 like 25 years ago when I lived on 71st @wea

    14. “and plans to retain the Fairway name and operate the stores in the tradition New Yorkers have come to know and love”

      I was afraid of that.

    15. Daniel A says:

      Quirky. Beloved by the community. Commitment to diversity in products and staff. Large organic section. Health and beauty. Perfect recipe for a CO-OP. Why don’t the employees buy the store and invite the customers as co-owners? Maine has several successful CO-OP groceries: Belfast CO-OP and Blue Hill CO-OP are two examples. Check them out on your next vacation.

      • Helen says:

        Interesting idea! I’ve run across other employee owned supermarkets elsewhere (not in urban areas) and always wondered about the feasibility of doing the same here. Here’s one I’ve been to that stocks a wide variety of basic and specialty foods. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodman's_Markets

        They are also very rooted in the local communities, both from a service and sourcing perspective.

    16. The private equity motto, expand on credit and then bust them out.

      As Joe Nocera wrote at the end of How Private Equity Wrecked New York’s Favorite Grocery “I guess one moral of this story is that if you run a family company, don’t sell it to a private equity firm unless you don’t care what happens afterward.”

    17. Stu says:

      Frankly, I couldn’t care less if the Fairway name lives on or not, so long as a clean, reasonably-priced supermarket is operating. Fairway is not the Fairway of old, and I rarely go there anymore. I remember Fairway back in the day, as a place to buy very reasonably-priced, high quality produce, meats, cheeses and groceries. Then the changes were brought on, and prices shot up and quality down (who here remembers mouse-gate?!) . Good riddance.

      • MH says:

        I remember mouse-gate! That photo of a mouse peering out from an olive barrel made me stop buying olives ever since. Scary to think of what we DON’T see.

    18. MH says:

      Fairway isn’t just about food! It is also about providing household needs–laundry detergent, paper towels, aluminum foil, cleaning supplies, almost all the things that everyone needs and buys in addition to food.
      That said, the quality of the produce is extremely spotty and often terrible, prepared foods are drowning in mayonnaise, prices are ridiculously high, and I for one would welcome a Shop-Rite owned store.

    19. ted says:

      retail store that brings wholesale price

      now bankruptcy

    20. Sayle says:

      I love this comment section.
      Whatever happens, all I am thinking about are the JOBS that could be lost. I adore the staff at Fairway. Like many, I am on a first name basis with numerous people and visit almost daily. I want everyone to stay employed. PLEASE. KEEP. THE. JOBS. AVAILABLE.

    21. JAY MESSINA says:

      I love Fairway, and I’m there almost every day. I had mixed feelings when they added the ‘Food School’ upstairs. I think it was a waste of money, space and time. I hope I’m wrong and it proves to be lucrative.

    22. Glen says:

      I am hard pressed to see how a developer will not come in, buy the building and knock it.

    23. David Schwartz says:

      Another company killed by private equity takeover. The private equity group loaded Fairway down with debt, which it struggles with to this day, despite going public and a previous Ch 11 bankruptcy.
      Hopefully a buyer is found for the remaining stores, and will keep the Fairway name and popular products.

    24. Sybil says:

      Shop rite stores are clean, well managed, with helpful employees, competitive prices, fresh produce and a variety of prepared food.

    25. RK says:

      FYI
      ShopRite is not a regular company, it’s a co-op called Wakefern, owned by its members. Each member has the right to use the ShopRite name. Many of these members are family owned businesses. They also own the Gourmet Garage name, and a few others I don’t recognize.

      The business purchasing Fairway is one of these family owned businesses, Greek immigrants who started their business in the 1930’s. They run several ShopRite stores in NJ.

      So this is really a positive development IMO. A family run grocery chain (which happens to be ShopRite). And according to the reports, they’re purchasing the 5 Manhattan stores as well as a distribution center. Maybe they’ll be getting back to basics, which is where Fairway needs to go.

      I assume they’ll merge their suppliers and distributors with Fairway’s, and one hopes that, being grocers, they’ll recognize the value of the Fairway house brands and foods.

      Let’s see what happens. But don’t expect prices to go down, or the pro/anti Fairway rants to let up!!

    26. Lee says:

      Begging 🥺 PLEASE KEEP DOUGLASTON.
      The wonderful staff: Antoinette, Steve, Henry, Sergio, Celia, Peter, the lox man, James, Zakir, David, Kevin in produce! They are like family.
      They have a selection that you cannot find anyplace else.
      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE KEEP DOUGLASTON

    27. Alan Flacks says:

      Two changes I noticed over the past few years: The store became somewhat a “job lot” and they kept moving things around every week, making it more time consuming to shop.

      • BillyNYC says:

        They’re getting rid of their old stock in their warehouse or take from one store and give to another. It’s an old supermarket trick.
        They need to fill their empty shelves to look busy so they attend to move things around every day to make you stay there looking for what you came in to buy and make you take something secondary because you can’t find what you’re looking for.
        Call it what you may but there at the point of no return and could care less about you just want the $$$.

    28. Michael Hobson says:

      Well I want to simply add thanks to all the business interests involved in the save. Indeed I directly twitter bombed as many intersted parties cld think of, including GoldmanS Bank PR, Shoprite PR, WSMkt, even local pols to get involved. So much invested in this franchise and the social value of the busy local locations and UWS/74St store, that in spite of the misplaced boombust financialization/IPO, we all feel the restitution of this small but integral market is a decent omen for the neighbothood. We thank all the business interests involved for the gracious reprieve & respite of alarm. How to improve mgt? maybe get some smart neighborhood kids that run those summer lemonade stands. Haha.. (kidding) Good luck and thank you!