By Scott Etkin
On Thursday, Morton Williams, a family-owned chain of gourmet supermarkets, signed a lease for the entire west block of Broadway between 68th and 69th Streets – in the Dorchester Towers apartment building – across the street from where Food Emporium used to be.
The supermarket is expected to open in summer 2023, Morton Williams co-owner Avi Kaner wrote to WSR. “The fit and finish will be similar to our stores at 60th and West End Avenue and 87th and Madison Avenue,” he said. “[The market will feature] a vast array of prepared foods, fresh produce, and organic, gourmet meat and seafood, specialty foods, national and private labels across every category.
“The neighborhood has long sought a supermarket after their loss of the 68th Street Food Emporium,” said Kaner. “We plan to build and operate the most beautiful, well-stocked and interesting supermarket on the Upper West Side.”
Food Emporium occupied the large corner space at 2008 West 68th Street. It closed in 2013 and was replaced by a Lowe’s home improvement store, which lasted until 2018. That space remains empty.
About half the storefronts of the Dorchester Towers are empty. A tipster who heard the supermarket announced at the Dorchester Towers’ annual condo board meeting told us, “Existing tenants, including Innovation Luggage, will be forced to vacate so demolition and construction can begin after the architectural design approvals are met.”
Variazioni, the Italian clothing store, has posted a “closing” sign. Optyx, the eyewear store, has already moved to 2384 Broadway at 87th Street. The two other open businesses on the block are Team 7, a German kitchen furniture store, and ClearMD, a Covid testing center.
Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Council Member (formerly Manhattan Borough President) Gale Brewer both have voiced the need for a supermarket to fill the vacancy, due to increased development in the area.
“I have been working with members of the community to encourage a grocery store to open up in this area,” wrote Assemblymember Rosenthal in a statement to WSR. “Hundreds of West Siders signed a petition I created and circulated in 2019 to demonstrate the enormous demand and help attract a new grocer to our neighborhood. It seems like years of advocacy and community organizing will finally pay off.”
(Thanks to Iris for the tip.)