Stew Leonard's Farm Fresh Foods
Owner: Stew Leonard, Jr
Location: 700 Paramus Park Mall, Paramus, NJ
Photographed: November 2019
The gold standard in upscale fresh food retailing with a sense of humor: Stew Leonard's! The chain has finally arrived here in New Jersey, and The Independent Edition has finally arrived at the store for a full tour of one of the most fun grocery stores in the world. The former Sears at the Paramus Park Mall, one of the largest malls in the retail capital of New Jersey, has been turned into an 80,000 square foot warehouse of fresh foods.
The barn design sure is different from most malls, that's for sure! And we'll find that Stew Leonard's inside looks nothing like most grocery stores. On a side note, you can read all about the chain in the founder's autobiography here.
Here's a look at the again barn-themed entrance to the indoor mall. Now the layout of this and every Stew Leonard's (of which there are six) is very mazelike, but the website luckily features a map of the store designed for kids. And supermarket bloggers.
We enter to the coffee bar immediately inside the entrance, before turning right. Liquor runs straight up the middle of the store, with the main walkway turning 90 degrees to the right to enter bakery.
The decor and displays are all over-the-top, in line with the huge stacks of merchandise. A store like Stew Leonard's is designed to have huge volume, and this like every other one does.
Hank and Bo welcome us to the main grocery part of the store, with a musical number every five minutes.
We have donuts, cookies, desserts, and some produce in the first aisle, with bagels in the corner.
Now those are some fresh donuts, made right on the sales floor!
Cookies as far as the eye can see!
Bagels and bread are on the side wall, where the walkway curves into the next aisle.
All baked in-store! All the signage and displays are top-notch.
More bread on the side wall.
Cakes and other refrigerated bakery items round out the bakery department. Turning the next corner we find the popcorn department...
...and then into produce. This section's layout is a little more like a regular supermarket, with an extra-wide produce aisle, dairy on the right-side wall towards the back, and a few grocery aisles.
I must say, the produce prices were very low compared to the other supermarket competitors. Part of the business model is very low prices on the simple, everyday items.
Another part of the business model is the Avocado Girls, who sing and dance over an open produce prep room.
Moving along, we find a large fresh herb display up next...
Looking back over the entire produce department. Moving into the grocery aisles we find... more produce!
How about that pile of green beans?
Okay, now we're moving over to dairy...
...where we're welcomed by dancing cartons of milk.
Stew Leonard's started as a dairy store.
Moving into grocery, we see a train led by a Stew Leonard's milk van. The grocery selection is very small here, since that's not the focus.
Another train is led by a farm tractor.
You can see that the grocery department is set up like a warehouse store with limited variety, large quantities, and low prices.
Moving into the meat department, which takes up two grocery aisles.
But the centerpiece of the meat department is the service counter, which is located on the side wall near the back of the store.
We have frozen foods at the far back of the store...
And then we head over to what is one of the the largest seafood departments I've ever seen in any supermarket.
Of course, you're welcomed to the department by an enormous lobster hanging over the main counter.
And we have some more grocery as we move over into deli and cheese up next, circling into the left half of the store.
We first encounter a sausage display and olive bar as we move towards the deli.
Like many supermarkets, this deli features Boar's Head branded products. Unlike many supermarkets, you are informed of this in song by Larry the Boar's Head Man.
A massive food court comes next in the back left corner of the store.
Asian foods, salad, soup, sushi, pizza, barbecue, a to-order wok stir fry bar, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh made potato chips are just some of the offerings of this wing of the store.
The food court is open daily for lunch and dinner. There's a seating area just inside the mall.
A grill and barbecue line the left side wall of the store, finishing out the food court.
Liquor department from the back. On the other side of this department is customer service and the ice cream counter, which is just around the corner from the coffee bar.
And I think that's finally it at this amazing store! I know I ate at another location, either Yonkers or Norwalk, many years ago and was fascinated so I'm glad I got the chance to come back and check out this location. That's all for now, but we have two more Paramus stores coming up. Check back tomorrow on The Market Report for more!