Owner: Mitchel Lopez
Cooperative: Retail Grocers Group
Location: 289 Bergen Blvd, Fairview, NJ
Photographed: June 2020
It's finally time to tour the brand-new City Supermarket in Fairview! I visited this store the second week it was open back in June of 2020 and it did not disappoint, despite not being fully set up yet. For a bit of context here, this store was originally an A&P (it's actually a Centennial buried way in the back of the building), which expanded to about 37,000 square feet eventually. Fairview had a larger, 45,000 square foot Waldbaum's built in the 90s and later converted to an A&P, which is now a Food Bazaar, so this location was scaled back to a Food Basics at just 30,000 square feet. In 2016, the store was bought by Key Food owner Kevin Kim and converted to a Key Food Marketplace with a reopening of the service departments closed by Food Basics. Key Food was later switched to a SuperFresh and then Freshway under Kim, closing in late 2019. By spring 2020, Mitchel Lopez, who owns outstanding City Supermarkets in Newark and Irvington (along with three Extra Supermarkets), moved in and began a major renovation of the store, with the layout remaining mostly the same but nearly every fixture and decor element replaced.
The store, being tucked away in the back corner of the mall it's in, is pretty hard to see from the road but this gigantic towering sign helps things. I hope City Supermarket manages to attract enough business because once you're inside, it's far and away the best supermarket that's ever occupied this space.
This sign faces the street. The liquor part of the store was not yet ready for business, nor was the hot food counter, but the rest of the store was looking fantastic. No more old rickety Walmart reject carts here, no more garbage strewn in the parking lot. Check it out...
Every one is brand new! This sets the tone for what we're going to find inside, too. Every single aspect of the store has been upgraded and is as professional as any big-chain supermarket, maybe better.
What a first impression! No more scratched floor, no more random mismatched produce bins, no more burnt out fluorescent lights, no more rotting produce, no more weird fish smell. While the layout remains the same, absolutely everything has been updated.
In front of the bakery shelving in the front of the store is the Market Cafe, a small seating area whose tables and chairs had not yet arrived at the time of my visit.
Hot food, bakery, and coffee was still being set up too.
Here you can see the entrance area.
As you can see to the far left, the self-serve deli case was still being filled, but the emphasis was on specialty Italian and Mediterranean products, many of which are locally made.
And speaking of Italian products, that's a big focus of the store's international selection, along with Latin foods (Fairview is about 55% Hispanic). It's fascinating to me that none of Kim's assorted stores nor City make an effort to cater to the area's Asian populations, though City Supermarket does more than Freshway, mostly because of the very nearby Food Bazaar which has three full aisles of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese products.
Seafood has actually been slightly reduced in size, which surprised me. That was, though, for an expansion of the dairy and deli departments, which seem to do more business at this store.
Looking back towards the grand aisle with seafood behind the giant USA soda display.
The back aisle of the store is looking better than ever, but you can see that the layout is quite similar to Freshway.
A look down the spotless international aisle (formerly Food Basics' sales aisle). Believe it or not, Mitchel Lopez's store actually has a larger Asian selection than Kevin Kim's. But then again, Lopez's stores are simply some of the best independent supermarkets in northern New Jersey.
In the back corner (still the strangest place for it) is the meat department, which has been gloriously restored to its full potential. Frozen foods, in cases that may actually be left over from Food Basics, line the rest of the last aisle.
Let's head into the department to see how it's been set up.
Cold cuts line the back wall, with additional packaged meats lining the shelving in the middle and a large service butcher, which is fully up and running with beautiful brand-new cases, in the front of the alcove.
These glass cases are absolutely stunning in person. I've seen them popping up in a lot of new stores, and I love them.
The selection at City Supermarket is also much more diversified than you'd find at Freshway -- for instance, check out the Beyond Meat products in the case in the foreground.
Frozen foods take up the last two aisles of the store. In the front corner, we find the liquor department which has not yet opened. City Supermarket has closed it off from the rest of the store with newly installed windows, a nice touch since Freshway's was a bit random. Especially towards the end, grocery items and even sometimes HABA would randomly trickle into the liquor shelving.
And just around the corner, we see a totally remodeled customer service department and manager's office.
Clearly there was a lot in progress at the time of my visit! I'm glad I got to see it so early in the process though, it's an exciting time to visit a supermarket. And you can probably guess what I'm about to say about the front end... it's totally remodeled with all new registers and signs.
That's all for this store! And speaking of things in progress, tomorrow we have a store tour over on The Market Report of a store I unknowingly visited right in the middle of a remodel. Stay tuned!