The Red Hook Fairway may be gone but its spirit will live on in the space’s coming Food Bazaar, according to the chain supermarket’s executive vice president.
Bogopa Enterprises, which owns Food Bazaar, made a deal with Fairway on July 15 to purchase the bankrupt grocer’s locations in Red Hook and Douglaston, Queens, after failing to sell at a bankruptcy auction earlier this year — and Edward Suh, executive vice president of Bogopa/Food Bazaar Supermarket, says that the company is hoping to build upon Fairway’s 14-year reign in the waterfront neighborhood.
“We’re honored to be a part of Red Hook,” said Suh, adding that Food Bazaar will retain all of Fairway’s employees and will even incorporate some of the former supermarket’s “signatures” such as gourmet cheeses, in-house roasted coffee and specialty organic and pre-made items into its selection.
All the while, Suh said, Food Bazaar will bring its own wide array of offerings — something he said will be “the best of both worlds.” According to the executive director, Food Bazaar will bring its high-quality fresh meat, seafood and produce to the table, while offering diverse offerings from around the world and honing in on what the community itself would like to see on shelves.
Referencing the company’s mission statement “Feeding Your Way of Life,” Suh said Food Bazaar is proud to embrace and celebrate all cultures, providing a diverse international selection of ethnic food items.
“We are excited to introduce even more of Brooklyn to new and exciting flavors from around the world,” said Suh.
The sprawling supermarket’s level of service will also improve as part of the acquisition, he said.
“What that means is that, if you give us a whole fish that we sell you, we’ll skin it and we’ll steam it — free of charge. If you buy a whole oxtail, let’s say you’re taking it to grandma’s house, we can cut it in quarter-inch portions for you, free of charge,” Suh explained. “We pride ourselves on offering that type of service for our customers and that is definitely going to continue for our Red Hook location.”
In addition to the Fairway signatures, Suh said, Food Bazaar will also keep the company’s famous prepared foods such as lobster rolls fully stocked — something, he said, is reminiscent of the company’s ability to individualize service in the neighborhoods it serves.
“What we offer in our Corona store, for example, is different than what we offer in our Long Island City and East Williamsburg locations. What that allows us to do is really listen to our customers and source different products that cater to each community,” he said.
Food Bazaar was established in 1988 opening its first store in Queens, according to Suh. Bogopa — which operates 26 Food Bazaar stores in the Tri-State area, including six outposts in Brooklyn — put in a bid for the two locations during a bankruptcy auction in early July.
The firm edged out a counter-offer by Seven Seas, an operator and member of the Key Food Stores Cooperative, which bought Fairway’s other Kings County outpost at the Georgetown strip mall on Ralph Avenue for $5 million in March.
Looking ahead, the warehouse supermarket located a 480-500 Van Brunt St. will remain open during mostly overnight renovations and the occasional daytime upgrades to the store, which Suh said will mirror the decor of the Food Bazaar supermarket in the Bronx Terminal and include polished concrete, energy-efficient cases and a higher volume of air circulation.
The growing business also aims to continue its partnership with local elected officials, churches and community organizations in the neighborhoods it serves — and Suh believes its mostly-local staff will help keep the neighborhood spirit of the store alive for years to come.
“We understand that we’re a staple in most communities, so we embrace that role and we want to be a part of the community — that’s what makes it fun,” he said. “Our employee makeup is so diverse and they are from the communities we serve, which is really beautiful because they can give us advice on what we should work on, what we should carry and what services we should offer to the customers. And it’s great to see them bringing their friends and family to shop in the store. Everyone knows each other — and that’s exactly the type of environment we’re trying to cultivate.”
While businesses are continuing to adapt to the new normal in the age of COVID-19, Food Bazaar has implemented strict protocols to ensure the safety and health of its employees and shoppers.
All shoppers must wear a face mask while in the store and all employees are equipped with face masks or face shields, gloves and hand sanitizers. Stickers are placed on the floor to promote social distancing followed by announcements, and plexi-glass has been installed at each cash register to prevent cross contamination.
Additionally, the carts, baskets, cases, door handles and other equipment and machinery are disinfected regularly by service clerks.
Additional reporting by Kevin Duggan