Westside Story

Written by

After three long years, the Westside Supermarket reopened its doors last Friday. When it closed in 2004, disgruntled shoppers covered the store closing sign with graffiti that related stories of loves lost and found in the market’s produce aisles and threats to move away from the neighborhood as a result of being left without a “decent” supermarket. Having arrived in Morningside Heights too late for firsthand experience of the original Westside Market, foodie Elizabeth Grefrath made her inaugural trek to the legendary store this Monday.

iiiThe delightful aroma of nearly ripe produce greets the customer steps before entering the new Westside Market, tempering the sweaty stink that overtakes New York in the summer. The sight of fresh fruits and veggies is almost as refreshing—and at the Westside, unlike you can buy your roughage without breaking the bank.

Towers of tinned tuna! Exotic foreign juices! Nutella for $1.99/13 oz! You’ll never do to Fairway again–a trip down the aisles reveals that Westside prices on cereal, rice, soup, pasta as good or better than the mother of all grocery stores on 76th and 125th.

The cheese area, not an aisle but an island of fromage surrounded by outlying sample stations, quickly becomes my favorite part of the store. The astonishing array features everything from delicate and tender mozzarella di bufala to designer hard cheeses, such as the exquisite Emmanthal, and some melting-out-of-its-rind brie. After aiding a vertically challenged customer in reaching for water crackers located about the cheese, I heard a child mope that “this place probably doesn’t have lemon ice pops.” The mother answered, “oh no, I’m sure they do.”

gdfThey did, in fact, have them, in several varieties. Actually, Westside had everything that I look for in a good grocery, including Eight O’Clock Coffee, Iranian pistachios, Barilla pasta, fresh figs and herbs, yellow turnips, aged balsamic vineger from Modena, and imported canned plum tomatoes from San Marzano, Italy. If you can’t find something you need, a little box at the entrance encourages you to “tell us. We’ll order it.” When I started to write down that the Market needed to invest in Hecker’s Flour and Lio Olive Oil, a store manager approached me and apologized for not having what I needed.

What I needed, versus what I wanted. Westside Supermarket realizes the difference, and strives to supply both. At Westside, in contrast to every supermarket I’ve shopped in, the people at the meat, deli, cheese and salad (all toppings, $6.99/pound!) ask what they can do for me. In line to pay for the groceries, a bagger asked me how he could help me get my purchases to my home. Free coffee, in four blends, and with four types of milk. Splenda flowing freely and unmonitored, a touch of true class. Perhaps this is just a result
jhof Re-Opening Day adrenaline, doomed to fade when people re-learn the Westside habit. I’m going to buck my cynical Columbian instincts and hope that it is not. As I walked home from the Westside, two evenly balanced grocery bags on my arms and cup of free coffee in hand, and I believed for a short while in the goodness of mankind.

 – Photos by Armin Rosen

Tags: , ,


  1. Oh man

    I'm actually stoked about this. If only the bagel place would return...but I guess we're all too young to be able to remember that... Or are we? muahahaha

  2. price check  

    Looking at pasta prices (which have a pretty decent effect on my food budget anyhow) they were about 50% higher than those at Fairway. My guess is that its hit or miss. All stores run a loss- leader technique, they just pick different products to do so on based on what they view to be their market.

    Though the walk back is a heck of a lot better than hiking up the hill from 131st.

  3. iranian

    pistachios are for terrorists.

  4. short freshman

    I'm glad that this will be there for my four years...can't live without good groceries!!!!

  5. they  

    have a great deal on a full roasted chicken: $5.99. Once they figure out how to keep the water out and jucies in, it'll be a lot better than the $18 Texas takeout.

  6. they're good,

    but they have no beer! (at least not yet)

  7. Dammit

    Why must this re-open right after I graduate. Why.

    HoBags was awesome. Sigh.

  8. YAY

    I used to go shop at the Westside Market on 14th street...never again!

  9. tourist (pre-frosh)

    where is this place? please.

  10. oooh  

    i was just there today. except, why does the author of this post have a momentary lapse of present-tense verbs when describing the cheese? probably my biggest pet peeve...

  11. happy  

    i asked the man at the deli counter today if they sold any guacamole. he said he was sorry, but that they did not...and then told me all the ingredients in guacamole and how to make it myself. it was so helpful. i made some kick ass guacamole that night.

  12. i work  

    right by the WM on 14th and they have awesome sandwiches. i stopped by the new one the other night for groceries but hopefully the sandwiches will be great here too. Theres a WM special which involves grilled pastrami and corned beef and swiss cheese and russian dressing. its awesome.

  13. WHAT


    • wow

      you sound so hard and real because you hang out with people who aren't white. please impart your wisdom and tales of grit from the streets to all of us albino, trust fund babies... you're an idiot.

  14. Stop

    Gentrification! Boycott Westside! We don't need it! We want bodegas!

    Also, HoBags has alredy stated that they won't be coming back.

  15. Nutella PSA

    Nutella = Freshman 30, rather than 15

  16. Westside staffer

    I spit on the lemon pops. I spit on the melting-out-of-its-rind brie. Enjoy TB, you motherfucking spoiled Ivy league shitheels

  17. haha

    All i have to say to the last few posts is hahahaha... However, why can't we all be happy that a decent store has opened up in the neighborhood? Why does everyone have to get riled up with jokes about race and damn gentrification...

    People, get a life! And while you're at it, stop bitching.

  18. D'Agostinos  

    is going down!

  19. Cheezburgers?

    I can haz cheeseburgers?

  20. let's  

    just all go to fairway.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.