Ten years ago next week, Fairway opened its landmark store in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, raising the bar for the grocery game in the Big Apple.
Although the store in the ensuing years would encounter disasters both natural (Hurricane Sandy) and man-made (competitive intrusions from the likes of Whole Foods and its parent company’s recent Chapter 11 filing) — Red Hook remains an idiosyncratic icon in the city grocery landscape, known for abundant fresh foods and specialty products, delivered with authority and attitude, like these coffee beans that are roasted on-site.
The 52,000-square-foot store, located in a remote but handsome restored Civil War era warehouse, offers a spectacular setting at the New York Harbor waterfront offering views of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan.
Disaster struck in 2012 when floods caused by Hurricane Sandy severely damaged the building causing a four-month shutdown. Things were only getting back to normal before Whole Foods Market later that year debuted its first Brooklyn outpost.
Located in nearby but more densely populated Gowanus, that store provided area residents with one less reason to schlep to Red Hook, and Fairway’s typically massive volumes tailed off. The ensuing battle for the stomachs of Brooklyn shoppers was among the central challenges triggering Fairway’s recent bankruptcy, but a recent visit shows the store retains its flair.