Jarring change at Sahadi’s: Generic bins replace classic glass at beloved specialty shop

The Brooklyn Paper
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Customers at Sahadi’s, Brooklyn’s primary stop on the Near Eastern spice route, are still fuming that the grocer has replaced the classic glass jars with generic plastic containers in the nuts, dried fruits and candies section.

“Everyone is talking about it,” said Charlie Sahadi, the second-generation owner. “No one likes change less than me,” but “my concern is about my customers, not about my jars.”

The jars were a big part of the shopping experience at Sahadi’s. The store, open since 1948, contained dozens of large, circular glass jars, each containing a different kind of nut, dried fruit or candy. Customers would take a number and wait for an employee to scoop out their order.

The shapely glass jars made a distinctive clinking noise when lid made contact with base, but that repeated clinking led to chipping, with bits of glass ending up in the food.

In other stores, a change like this would be insignificant, but like other recent changes to the Atlantic Avenue grocery, famous for foods of the Levant, anything that tinkers with the old-time atmosphere is sure to draw fire.

“I don’t like them,” said one longtime shopper who didn’t want to give her name. “The new ones look like any deli. I prefer to see broken glass because it has more identity.”

Other New York institutions wrestle with ways to preserve their charm, while not falling too far behind the times.

Russ & Daughters, the nearly century-old Lower East Side smoked-fish haven, has held on to most of the glass jars in its renowned candy section.

“We’ve tried to the best of our ability to maintain the authenticity and the feel of the place,” said Niki Russ Federman, the fourth-generation owner. “We have some glass jars that are the ones my grandparents used. Glass has a better quality and look.” But, she admitted, “Plastic is more practical.”

Updated 4:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ronald from Westfield, New Jersey says:
Charlie Sahadi can do anything he wants. He presides over Brooklyn's greatest food specialty store and plastic containers aren't going to change a thing. Only those lost in impossible preciousness and blinding affluence could possibly complain about something like this.

Charlie, put all the food in giant zip lock plastic bags. Then lets see what the yuppies and muppies and buppies have to say.
Nov. 29, 2007, 9 pm
Red from B-lo says:
The Sahadi's and their plastic bins are welcome in the B-lo...we take our nuts wrapped in plastic or glass...but we're not picky
Nov. 29, 2007, 11:55 pm
Red from B-lo says:
I think "Impossible Preciousness" is a new Peter Jackson film
Nov. 29, 2007, 11:57 pm
Corinne from Gowanus says:
I hope people understand; I mean, I miss the jars, too, but Sahadi's was losing money everytime they had to throw out an entire container of nuts or fruit due to chipping. It's not that chipping was unsightly or something; I thought the chipped containers were endearing, too, until I found out about all of the lost revenue. I want Sahadi's to be around for another 60 years (even more!) so let's try to be supportive!
Nov. 30, 2007, 3:28 pm
MOO2 from MIDWOOD PARK says:
Hate plastic but love and trust Charlie Sahadi to do the right thing. I bring home the goodies and put them in my own treasured glass jars (with chipped lids). Many Years! to Charlie and his marvelous family!
Nov. 30, 2007, 3:45 pm

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