“We’re looking forward to becoming a shopping destination in this very unique and interesting part of the city,” says Fairway co-owner Harold Glickberg, whose grandfather, Nathan Glickberg, opened the original 74th Street Fairway fruit and vegetable market in 1940.
This spring the highest-volume food stores in Manhattan (now two locations there) and on Long Island (one) are setting up shop in Brooklyn, opening in a landmark pre-Civil War Red Hook coffee warehouse with iron shutters, original beams and massive supporting columns (480-500 Van Brunt Street). Why expand into Brooklyn? “Where else in New York can I find 52,000 square feet?,” says Harold, with an implied “Fuggedaboutit!” But space for 30 kinds of olives and 350 kinds of cheese ain’t the only reason he’s boroughbound. Harold spies a business opportunity that he almost makes sound like charity work. “Brooklyn is really underserved as far as food goes. It has no good food stores. All those small neighborhood stores have high prices and limited selections. We’re thrilled to bring superior quality fresh foods to the residents of Brooklyn, and thrilled to be part of the resurgence of Red Hook, a neighborhood with so much history and possibility.”
Not everyone is thrilled. The store has parking space for 300 cars, and in keeping with much of once-industrial Brooklyn’s retrofitting, the complex includes 45 loft apartments. Back when Red Hook was NYC’s main harbor, traffic here was dangeous, and its quiet streets are about to bustle again. Says Arnaud, owner of Red Hook restaurant 360, “Nobody’s looking forward to truck traffic. But I’m excited to buy decent food in my own neighborhood.”
He’s not alone. Brooklynites boro-wide eagerly anticipate transferring from the G train to the 77 bus for Perigord chocolates, preserved lemons, housemade tofu, and prawn chips from Hamburg. And it’s not just Brooklynites. “We’re pretty sure we’ll get a lot of shoppers from lower Manhattan,” predicts Harold. Which brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “bridge-and-tunnel crowd.”