Food Bazaar is hardly a mainstream supermarket.
While the privately owned grocer welcomes one and all — after all, the name of its parent company, Bogopa, is Korean for “Yearning for You” — it also takes pride in its “vast international offerings,” not to mention its robust charitable activities, both demonstrated effectively by its recent entry into the uber-diverse neighborhood of East Harlem in Manhattan.
“We have had our eye on East Harlem for many years, and with this being our very first entry into the busy Manhattan market we are extremely excited to introduce our brand to the community,” said Edward Suh, executive vice president of Food Bazaar, which already operates several New York City locations in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
The new location at 201 East 125h Street, One East Harlem brings the company total to 30 locations across a tristate area encompassing New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The store location is in a neighborhood dominated by various Hispanic groups, but also home to a burgeoning Chinese presence alongside Black, Italian and other ethnic communities.
There’s good reason why Bogopa is the company’s Korean name and that its offerings reflect cuisine from around the world. Founder Francis An was born in Korea, lived and learned in Argentina as a young man, and then moved to New York, where he found that the needs — i.e. foodstuffs — of minorities and immigrants could be better served.
He opened his first supermarket in Queens in 1988 and hasn’t looked back.
“We are able to provide the Peruvian family with papa seca (dried potato) in order to make a comforting dish of carapulca (Peruvian pork stew) and the Guatemalan family with plantains in order to create rellenitos de platano (mashed plantains stuffed with a mixture of refried beans, chocolate, and cinnamon),” Food Bazaar said in a statement.
“If a family from Mexico requires huitlacoche to make tamales the way they did back home, we actively seek it out and provide it.”
Here’s a look at some of the ways that retailer serves this part of Manhattan — once more commonly called Spanish Harlem:
- All the usual suspects: The company may have a focus on international, but it’s also a full-service grocer that carries all the usual suspects. Its East Harlem Food Bazaar features a custom-cutting meat department, a full-service seafood department with a variety of whole fish, fillets, crab legs and live lobsters, a deli counter with hot food and cold salads, and a bakery with fresh in-house baked breads and assorted cakes. It has a coffee bean and roastery department and a full-service cheese section. A future food court will serve up teriyaki dishes, Korean fried chicken, gourmet coffee and doughnuts.
- Passionate about community: If Food Bazaar has built a reputation for its international stock, it is equally well known for giving back to the community. In East Harlem, that started as soon as the doors opened for business. The grand opening on Sept. 8 displayed its dedication to community by distributing “tons of food” to Templo Emmanuel, “a pillar of support” to the area’s Mexican immigrants that provides free meals to 800 families in need every third Saturday of the month and free online education to more than 150 people.
- A warm welcome to East Harlem: “I am happy to welcome Food Bazaar, a long-awaited, full-service, healthy and affordable grocery store to East 125th Street,” commented NYC Deputy City Council Speaker Diana Ayala. “As many of you know, I have worked very hard to get a new grocery store in East Harlem, and through efforts with the NYCEDC [New York City Economic Development Corp.] and the development team of the One East Harlem building, as well as a lot of work by the community’s East 125th Street Development Task Force, we have a new grocery store in this wonderful new building.”
- New job market: With the food comes new employment opportunities and community benefits. “Food Bazaar brings this community a much-needed supermarket, creates nearly 150 new jobs, and demonstrates the importance of small businesses helping drive the city’s economic recovery,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “NYCEDC welcomes Food Bazaar to One East Harlem, and we are proud to have worked with the community to revitalize the 125th Street corridor and to see new tenants like the Food Bazaar opening their doors.”
There’s also Manhattan delivery service. The new store’s food and flavors can easily travel far beyond walking distance from East 125th Street. Food Bazaar’s online customers can click on the company’s website or mobile app to have their orders delivered to most of the NYC borough.
As a grand-opening celebration perk, the first 400 customers who displayed the Food Bazaar app on their phone received a voucher code for a free pair of New York Yankee tickets to select 2022 regular season games. That same day, free tote bags filled with goodies went to the first 1,000 customers and free food samples were offered throughout the store.