Another supermarket will be checking out; Walgreens coming in

BY ELISSA STEIN  |  Hidden behind the shopping carts, so as not to upset customers, are stacks of bold “STORE CLOSING” signs, to be hung in windows this weekend at the Food Emporium, at 12th St. and Sixth Ave.

Food Emporium, which has been at the location for more than 50 years, will be shutting its doors in early May. Permanently.

Along with the Greenwich Village outpost, the Food Emporium at 68th St. and Broadway will be closing as well. A&P, Food Emporium’s parent company, emerged from bankruptcy last year. It was still trying to sell its Manhattan locations, when it was announced in March that Madison Capital, a private investment group specializing in real estate, was purchasing the leases to both supermarket sites. When asked for more information about what will happen to the Downtown store, a Madison Capital spokesperson commented that they don’t talk about deals until they are closed.

While Food Emporium had been working to find the right balance of trendy and food-forward with the necessary staples of a well-rounded supermarket, this loss will leave a gaping hole in the neighborhood, which already lost Jefferson Market in the not-too-distant past.

When asked about the closing of the Village market, one of the longtime cashiers said, “This is very sad for the people, very, very sad,” referring to both the store’s employees and customers. The shocked staff received letters early this month, informing them of the closing, of possible payouts for union members, of eligibility for unemployment.

Many of the workers have been at the location for dozens of years. One, who started there in 1967, at age 16, was tearful as she talked about the community that was being torn apart. She spoke of former customers who grew up in Greenwich Village and stopped by, years later, to say hello. She recalled the P.S. 41 kindergarteners who took annual field trips to the market to learn about shopping. And then there was 9/11, when the supermarket staff served sandwiches and drinks to the hundreds of people snaking past the storefront waiting to donate blood at St. Vincent’s.

She worried about the challenges of terminated workers finding new jobs in an already-tight marketplace, and also worried about her elderly customers, who will no longer have a local place to shop.

With hundreds of new apartments flooding 12th St. from the Rudin redevelopment of the former St. Vincent’s site in the near future, it’s impossible to imagine where all these new and current residents will buy milk, fresh asparagus and dishwashing detergent.

And, as if the loss of a supermarket isn’t enough, rumors are swirling that the Sixth Ave. location will become a Walgreens, as if this small stretch of city needs yet another drugstore.

John Catsimatidis, owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain and a current Republican candidate for mayor, said of the rumors about the Sixth Ave. site, “I heard that too. That’s going to be a Walgreens,” he confirmed.

Supermarkets simply can’t pay as much as Walgreens is willing to offer, he said.

“I can just say, it was a great supermarket,” he said of the Food Emporium.

After Jefferson Market’s original owners sold out, Catsimatidis briefly ran the famed store, but couldn’t make a go of it, and the space has sat vacant for several years.

“It was an oddball location, and we were unable to make it work,” he told The Villager.

Meanwhile, he said, people can shop at his Gristedes on W. Fourth St., “four to five blocks away” from the Food Emporium site.

As for opening another supermarket in the area, he said, “If you find another location, we’ll take it.”

With reporting
by Lincoln Anderson

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23 Responses to Another supermarket will be checking out; Walgreens coming in

  1. This is totally insane. We do not need another drugstore on Sixth Avenue.

    Mr. Catsimatidis, We loved the Jefferson Market. Unfortunately it was so expensive compared to Food Emporium and Citarella. If only you could have lowered the prices, you would have made it!

    • “expensive compared to Food Emporium and Citarella.”?

      I didn’t find it more expensive than Food Emporium at all. It was comparable on some things and cheaper on others (e.g., produce, oils, cheeses, frozen foods). Their produce was of better quality. Their hot foods were great. Their bakery items far superior. While the crew at Food Emporium are wonderful so was the staff at the Jefferson Market Gristedes!

      As far as it being more expensive than Citarella, with all due respect, I didn’t find that to be the case at all. Citarella is more of a high-end specialty store as opposed to a supermarket and I find its prices reflective of that.

  2. Can shop at the Union Square Food Emporium. A big , clean market. Much more to offer the Gristedes.

    • MissingTheOldVillage

      For many of the elderly people (and there are many!) who live near and shop at the 12th Street store, Union Square is a hike!

  3. Anyone know what is going in the food emporium on 68th and Broadway?

  4. If anyone has an idea for a replacement location, please let me know. We'd consider a Morton Williams supermarket. You can send me a note on our website: http://www.mortonwilliams.com
    Avi Kaner

    • Mr Kaner – Bring a Morton Williams to our neighborhood. Now Food Emporium is closing there is no supermarket (other than gourmet and expensive Citerella in the area) Take over the Food Emporium location or the vacant Jefferson's right across the street. Food Emporium is packed full of shoppers every day. You'll have customers – And the mega 12th St development is bringing hundreds of new residents who all need a local well stocked supermarket – It's a no brainer.

  5. Is it true Morton Williams is taking over Food Emporium on 42nd and 10th Ave ?

  6. MissingTheOldVillage

    Yet ANOTHER drugstore?! So there will be 1, in some cases 2, store(s) on every block to buy drugs/cosmetics but none to buy food? How ludicrous!

    There is more than an ample population around this location to support a grocery store. I only hope that the Walgreen’s deal falls through and that a supermarket moves in to this location instead or, at the very least, that one moves into the old Jefferson Market location.

    We need a supermarket NOT another a drugstore!

  7. There are rumors that they will soon occupy that location as well as the food emporium on 87th and Madison.

  8. Anyone hear that Krogers is buying or bought pathmark ?

  9. Dont vote for the Gristedes AHOLE..he hates NY..anyone who doesnt care about local stores that support community should not be mayor

  10. What a shame to lose this supermarket! The Gristedes on W. 4th Street will be no substitute for for the Food Emporium. It's an over-priced joke since the renovations. You can't find anything, the prices on staples are higher than any supermarket has a right to charge, plus the deli/appetizer section is disgusting — even when the deli worker isn't outside on a smoke break.

  11. This is terrible news for our neighborhood – Especially with the added population from the new development on 12th St, where are we supposed to shop for basic items locally? And for the elderly this is going to be a serious blow. I pray we are not going to be subjected to a Walgreens. Gristedes may not be the best supermarket but I'd far rather have them than yet another oversized useless drugstore shoehorned into this area. I need to buy Milk and bread on a regular basis NOT shampoo. Fxxk off Walgreens. We need a supermarked. Mr Catsimatidis, try again at Jefferson…you may be surprised by the success this time..

  12. Fresh Direct must be very happy.

  13. This grocery store was terrible, good riddance. If a Walgreen's is going in here than the worst Rite Aid in the city, two blocks away, will be closing within the year, a new grocery store can go in there.

    In the meantime just walk to the Gristedes on Greenwich Street or the Whole Foods in Union S.

    • Right, because it is all about you and to hell with the elderly people who use canes and walkers living in the buildings surrounding this location who may not be able to “just walk to the Gristedes on Greenwich Street or the Whole Foods in Union S.”! Let them starve, right?!

      Was this store the greatest? No.
      Did it serve a need? Most definitely, YES!

      • Well said Greg.

      • Cities morph. This isn't Main Street USA. Get real.

      • actually I think it is pretty obvious that it did not serve a need. they were loosing money for a very long time.. surely you don't expect a business to operate at a loss. even if you do, guess what happens over time to a company that operates at a loss – they go out of business! the same story goes for st. vincents who provided a much more important service to the community than the food emporium ever did and Bloomberg did not bother with trying to step in and try to save it and the quality of life for the area because he is not running for re-election and so simply no longer cares about his political reputation. besides, see my other comments about trader joe's. these ederly you speak of will save a lot of money if they go to trader joe's even if they pay to have their groceries delivered. unlike you I don't think that the food emporium's overpriced food was any sort of charity for the ederly. and simply things like milk can be had just one block away at Rite Aid for half what the Food Emporium used to charge. I stopped buying milk from the Food Emporium years ago since they were constantly overpriced.

  14. Walgreens, Duane Reed, Rite-Aid. I live on the block between 11th and 12th. Not having a supermarket take the place of Food Emporium is ludicrous. Between 14th St and W. 4th there is nowhere to buy staples. Citarella is about foodies, not basic supplies. I feel like a bunch of Village Idiots are moving into the neighborhood. Someone should talk to the Rudins as their future tenants will have nowhere to shop. Yes, there are quite a few elderly people who also will not have a supermarket. Since we no longer have an ER, maybe we'll just have to rely on meds from the drug stores.
    Maybe we will just have meds to eat. There are many wonderful employees who worked so hard to clear out the detritus after Hurricane Sandy knocked out our electric. I pray they will find good jobs.

  15. I was born and raised on 12th street and shopped at this Food Emporium (formerly A&P) since the 60's.
    It was on a steady decline. Overpriced and poor quality produce. When Citerella opened most of my business went there. Then when the East 14th Street trader Joe's opened most of my business went there, and boy was it cheaper than the Food Emporium or Citerella. Then the even better 6th Ave and 22nd street Trader Joe's opened and that was the death blow to the Food Emporium. It may be a hike for some ederly people to go to up to 22nd street but the will find a much more pleasant shopping experience and much much lower prices. And they can get same day delivery if it is too much to carry and still save plenty. I don't think even Walgreens is stupid enough to open at this location given the gigantic newly remodeled 24 hour DuaneReade (now owned by Walgreen's) location just one avenue over. Would be great if a Fairway opened here but they are about to open a megastore on 6th ave and 26th.

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