Foul weather did not dampen the excitement on the lines of eager customers awaiting the grand opening of the long-anticipated Fairway Market.
“It’s been so long since we had a nice, big [food] store like this,” said Doris Mayne of Douglaston. “It’s about time.”
Customers lined up over an hour before the doors first opened, anxiously awaiting the store that has been over two years in the making.
“I love Fairway, I used to have to travel to the one in Long Island,” said Martin Hoffman, one of the first customers to enter the 56,000-square-foot market. “Their aisles are wide and their selection is superb.”
Fairway – located at 242-02 61st Avenue in the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center’s Lower Level – held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, November 16 with politicians, residents and Fairway officials on hand.
“We’re really delighted for the people of eastern Queens,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “It really is a very big anchor in this community.”
The Douglaston Fairway is the first to open within Queens and is the largest of the nine in the city.
“The Douglaston area is, what I call, a food desert,” said Howie Glickberg, Fairway’s third-generation CEO. “For whatever reason, there are just not a lot of food stores in that area. We are really going to shake everybody up.”
The grand opening has been a process long in the making after some zoning issues and a full renovation and expansion of the Waldbaum’s building.
While local residents have been waiting for a market in the area, this is not just an average food store.
The aisles are filled floor to ceiling with not only typical supermarket fare, but specialty, imported, organic and exotic items.
The store will include a full kosher bakery featuring artisanal breads and New York City-style bagels made daily, a wide array of organic produce, a seafood department, butcher and cheese counter featuring over 600 cheeses.
Also featured in the market is a café that can seat 60 customers and will offer sushi, salad, yogurt and dozens of hot foods prepared fresh on premise that many customers eagerly sampled.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand for the ceremony and spoke about the economic boost the store will provide.
“This is exactly what New Yorkers are looking for, jobs in these tough economic times,” Bloomberg said.
Fairway has hired more than 450 employees in the store that covers more than one acre of land.
Bloomberg also noted that Fairway has made a commitment to employ veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’m not supposed to give plugs for one company over another, but you could do a lot worse than buying all your stuff here,” Bloomberg said, who also has a Fairway coffee named after him, Gotham Blend, which Glickberg described as all business with spicy undertones.
Fairway is open daily from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.
– Additional Reporting By Bob Doda