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Update: Universal Food Markets - Rahway, NJ

Universal Food Markets
Owner: Vishu Patel
Opened: between 1997 and 2000
Cooperative: Key Food Stores
Location: 2325 Elizabeth Ave, Rahway, NJ
Photographed: November 2021
We return to Rahway for another Universal update, and oh boy is it a good one. We last stopped by Universal in July when the remodel was just beginning, and we observed a new facade going on the front along with some construction work going on inside. I am pleased to report that the remodel is nearing completion and the store looks better than ever. Also in the interim Universal has joined Key Food.
Nice paint job on the new facade, and again, I have to assume the entrance is being moved over to the right side of the store into what is now the grand aisle...
Come on, what else would you be building all that for?! Let's jump over to the inside for more evidence...
Looks like it's being prepared for an entrance door since this whole area is tarped off. I actually kind of squeezed back here for this photo, since this area is closed off by shelving which you can see to the right above. And what a change we have in the grand aisle...
Looks like a different store! The lettering hadn't gone up on the department signs yet at the time of my visit, but most of the other work had been completed. All new fixtures, new flooring, new lighting, and a freshly painted ceiling. Amazing! One thing...
What is this on the left side of the grand aisle? Clearly this area is still in progress, and it almost looks like it's being prepared for another service department lining that side of the grand aisle but I don't think they'd have the depth for a service case and prep space behind it. I assume there will be shelving or cases of some kind going in here, but for now, it's all just sale items.
Totally redone deli and hot food department in the back, with all new fixtures and even a new tile backsplash!
And as we move into the butcher/seafood room, we see more extensive upgrades with all brand-new fixtures, flooring, and lighting. Really necessary, especially when you consider what the flooring used to look like here.
As we can see, the flooring installation was still in progress but largely done at th time of my visit. Seafood and packaged meat in this corner, which is still a strange dead-end behind the dairy department.
Obviously, this department will look better when its signage is in.
Heading into the grocery aisles, we find that the flooring and lighting there have been replaced too, although the shelving has not. Universal -- at least at the time of my visit -- was still sporting its bright orange Western Beef shelving. I do hope that it will at least be painted.
Everything is looking way better than it used to, though. Moving to the back of the store, we see dairy with all-new cases again...
How nice! Hopefully these cheap old aisle markers will be replaced too...
But as we see, the aisles are looking good with the new flooring and lighting. The ceiling has been painted throughout.
The remodel hadn't quite reached the frozen department at the time of my visit, but I have confirmed that it's since been redone too with new flooring and cases. In the front, we do have a bit of history...
These "SAVE!" signs are old Edwards signage, which I assume previously would've had sale items advertised on them specifically. I have to assume these, along with the old aisle markers, will be removed.
One more tiny hint that this is actually a very old store is the express lane signage at the courtesy counter. The older Edwards sign that used to hang above courtesy is long gone.
And a look across the much-improved front end! The entrance/exit foyer we see straight ahead there is likely going to become just the exit when the entrance is moved. And that's all for Universal, but I'll be back soon to get pictures of the new decor and the rest of the remodel when it's fully finished. Check out what else I have here today here:


  1. OK - is there some logic to the EBT sign hanging over the seafood section?

    1. Good question -- yes, actually! Seafood here is actually an outside vendor so you pay at the seafood counter rather than at the main registers, and that just means that, in addition to the main supermarket, the seafood vendor takes EBT.


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