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
The delightful aroma of nearly ripe produce greets the customer steps before entering the new Westside Market, tempering the sweaty stink that overtakes
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.”
They 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
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
of 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.