After acquiring Douglaston’s Fairway supermarket last month, Food Bazaar began transitioning the store to look more like its locations throughout the tri-state area.
Bogopa Enterprises, which owns Food Bazaar, made a deal with Fairway on July 15 to purchase the bankrupt grocer’s locations in Douglaston and Red Hook, Brooklyn, after failing to sell at a bankruptcy auction earlier this year, according to Edward Suh, executive vice president of Bogopa/Food Bazaar Supermarkets.
“This opportunity came along for us to grow as a company, and Fairway is an iconic brand and we felt that the Douglaston location made sense for us as far as the communities that our existing stores serve. We feel that we can do right by the neighborhood and offer them what they need,” Suh said.
On Aug. 13, the former Fairway, located at 242-02 61st Ave., officially became part of the Food Bazaar supermarket chain, which includes about two dozen locations in the tri-state area. Under the sale agreement, the company was required to retain Fairway’s unionized employees, according to reports.
Food Bazaar was established in 1988 opening its first store in Lefrak City at 97-27 57th Ave., according to Suh, expanding to other neighborhoods such as Jackson Heights, Long Island City and Ridgewood.
“Our growth early on happened in the boroughs, and today we have approximately 3,300 employees and in regard to who we are historically, we cater to that neighborhood — no store is the same as far as what we offer, from the types of flavors and spices,” Suh said.
Referencing the company’s mission statement “Feeding Your Way of Life” Suh said they’re proud to embrace and celebrate all cultures, providing a diverse international selection of ethnic food items.
Shoppers can expect to see Fairway signatures, such as the store’s vast selection of in-house roasted organic coffee from countries like Indonesia, Jamaica, and other places known to produce quality coffee beans, according to Suh.
“That’s an area that we historically have not ventured into and thought it would be a good learning experience for us,” Suh said. “The aroma is fantastic and customers love it. If we have the space, we’ll be implementing the coffee roasters at our other locations,” Suh said.
The company is hoping to alter their strengths in offering the best fresh meat, seafood and produce delivered from Hunts Point in the Bronx at an affordable low price.
“We’ll steam a lobster for our customers. We will cut an oxtail exactly how you want it, whether it’s half inch or a quarter inch, a rack of ribs we’ll do the same, and scale and steam a fish — all complimentary,” Suh said.
Food Bazaar is hoping to combine that with Fairway’s strengths and uniqueness such as their gourmet cheeses, kosher and organic breads and pastries, speciality and natural products, adding a high service quality perishable component.
Additionally, Food Bazaar plans on offering other hot foods, as well as international and ethnic products reflective of the Queens community.
“There are so many different languages spoken and so many people from all over the world, especially in Queens, it’s a true melting pot,” Suh said. “We try to serve our customers the best and it’s indicative of our workforce and the items we carry, and we hope to continue that in Douglaston.”
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 plexiglass 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.
“For our service counters, which we shut down for a while, we also put plexiglass barriers in the open area above the service counter case,” Suh said. “We’ve relaxed some of those measures going back to some degree of normalcy, but we are prepared to respond quickly for the safety and well being of our employees and customers.”
Looking forward, the company is planning on renovating the store in phases during the next three to six months to offer an improved first-class shopping experience for the Douglaston community and surrounding towns.
The upgrades include fixing the parking lot, polished concrete floors, new decor and cases, prepared food vendors, and becoming more energy efficient along with keeping the fresh produce and fruit tasting better and longer.
Suh said they’re hoping the community is patient in regard to certain disruptions that may occur. Most of the renovations will take place overnight, but some sections in departments may be closed off until the work is complete.
“We are keeping the core staples of what made Fairway, but at the same time improving every other facet of the store,” Suh said. “It’s exciting for us, and we want to do right by the community for more bank in their buck and a better shopping experience.”