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“It’s a small store, but we carry everything.”
That’s Yunes “Joe” Doleh talking, as he ushers Progressive Grocer through the new Key Food store he and his wife, Amy, own in the South Beach neighborhood of New York’s Staten Island — an area that has seen plenty of challenges of late.
Easy access to fresh, healthy food used to be one of them, but not since the store’s opening last August. (A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by local officials, took place this past January.)
Despite being a fraction of the size of most Store of the Month locations, the Key Food at 300 Sand Lane maximizes its space to offer a full selection of items to a diverse populace that includes shoppers of Russian, Polish, Hispanic and Italian descent. This leads to some unusual — but always colorful — juxtapositions in the store’s displays.
Just beyond the entrance, the customer is plunged into the produce department, which balances the fruit and vegetable basics with more exotic offerings such as Bright Lights Swiss chard, red bananas and chayote squash, cross-merchandised with baskets of better-for-you snacks like sunflower seeds, raisins and apple chips on displays in the center of the section that feature produce items as well. The department also sells organics under such brands as Earthbound Farm, for which Joe affirms there’s local demand. “We started a little section with organics, and we expanded it,” he notes.
Produce leads to a cheese island packed to bursting with international items, among them Reny Picot Brie and Parmissimo organic Parmigiano Reggiano, rounded out by olive and pasta selections.
Then it’s on to the deli department, nestled in the store’s left-hand corner. Doleh designates the area “the nicest part of the store,” on account of the mouthwatering prepared foods displayed, including chicken with roasted pepper focaccia, fried eggplant, and kale and broccoli salad, all made on-site “in the back.” An end cap features the store’s wildly popular rotisserie chickens — topped with barbecue sauce on the day of PG’s visit — for $5.99 per whole chicken, with half-chickens going for $3 each. As for sliced meats and cheeses, the deli counter offers Boar’s Head and other brands, with catering available.
The bakery department, which takes up several end caps to the right, consists of fresh-baked breads of various types from such companies as Chabaso and Ecce Panis, and a wide range of pastries both familiar (red velvet cake) and less so (whiskey mousse). Irish soda bread was on sale for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day observance at the time of PG’s visit, with cookies, breadsticks, bagels and Portuguese rolls among the other items offered.