Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Union Square Food Emporium looks to be closing at the end of May

The Food Emporium at 10 Union Square East will close on May 30, according to a WARN notice filed on Feb. 25 with the New York State Department of Labor. 

While the closure of the supermarket isn't a complete surprise, its timing is. In February 2020, Lois Weiss at the Post reported that Target has signed a lease for the 32,579 square feet here on 14th Street. However, the Food Emporium was said to stay here through the end of April 2023.

Sources told Weiss that, despite the wait, Target wanted to lock in the location along 14th Street. The nearly 16-year lease had an asking rent of $183 per square foot, she reported.

The WARN filing says that the Food Emporium lease is expiring. The closure will impact 50 employees, per the notice. 

In December 2015, Key Food acquired the Food Emporium banner name and related intellectual property assets, per published reports.

This will mark the departure of yet another traditional grocery store in the area. Associated closed on 14th Street in Stuy Town in December 2019.

H/T Bayou! EVG file photo.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was expensive and overpriced - but still, a real supermarket
which people need.
It was the only real supermarket in that whole huge area.
Terrible news.

bill said...

Trader Joe and Whole Foods are both close to this location.

Anonymous said...

RIP. Food Emporium was always a nice “middle option” between the budget-ass Associated and bougie-ass Whole Foods.

aliasfox said...

No particular love for Food Emporium, but it served a need. These mini Targets don’t offer a whole lot more than a big drugstore, and we already have both a big Duane Reade and a big Walgreens across the street, not to mention CVS at Park and 18th.

I’m sure the lack of direct delivery options hurt Food Emporium quite a bit this past year, lacking TJ’s competitive pricing and Whole Foods’ relative online convenience.

Anonymous said...

UGH, say it ain't so!

We need Food Emporium - an actual supermarket - in this neighborhood. A place where ordinary people shop. NOT Whole Paycheck (benefitting Jeff Bezos), NOT just TJ's (b/c some of us cannot tolerate the lines). Just a normal supermarket that carries everything from paper towels and Lysol to fresh produce and cat litter, etc. at normal prices, and that isn't all chi-chi.

Why is that so hard to maintain?

Why is NYC's "new normal" so ABNORMAL?

Gojira said...

Crap. So handy to just come home from work, come up the Zeckendorf escalator, walk in, buy what I needed that wasn't Trader Joe's stuff, walk back out and catch the Avenue A bus to 11th Street. There isn't another city in the world that lets its supermarkets go under to the extent that this one does, and it really does impact quality of life. At least I have C-Town close by, but for those who don't, it sucks.

Sarah said...

What 7:33 said. *pours one out*

Anonymous said...

It's so hard to maintain because rents are high and supermarkets are low margin businesses. They need a steady stream of customers. It very difficult for a non Target/Whole Foods/Tradet Joe's to compete. Add in the labor costs, utilities etc. NYC is (along with LA) the most difficult place in Anerica to operate a non chain business. People claim to support small shops but vote for policies that these shops cant afford like high minimum wages, paid sick leave etc. These 'progressive ' policies benefit Target and Whole Foods and TJ. Why dont people understand this?

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that this store isn't as crowded, which is why it's nicer to shop there. I'm really going to miss it, it was so much faster than TJ and so close. I've noticed some favorite products haven't been carried for a while but the selection is still so much better than every other neighborhood store, and everywhere else is a hike for me. GAH.

Anonymous said...

A tough one for those who rely on it, though its prices were significantly higher for big-name things like yogurt, where a comparable tub at a nearby grocer costs much less. My real concern, however, is what will happen to at least one — and perhaps more — Food Emporium employees who are working/disabled.

Target should offer them FE workers immediate interviews, training, and opportunities. One hates to see someone with a job they've been in for a long time have to struggle.

Anonymous said...

I love the neighborhood and supporting local businesses.

I don't understand the stream of comments showing empathy towards Food Emporium and trashing TJ, WFs.

I've gone into Food Emporium several times. Last time I went, it was $10 for a pack of blueberries when you can get it from the street vendor, WF or TJs for a fraction of the cost. Everything is excessively expensive and their closure is a product of not staying with the times. The store is terribly maintained and has a horrible layout.

Innovation, low cost, high volume, and wallet share are what drives customer behavior to the other guys. Also, it doesn't help that Amazon offers free delivery, which is heavily subsidized by Amazon.

Anonymous said...

@12:36pm: Your statement "their closure is a product of not staying with the times. The store is terribly maintained and has a horrible layout" is NOT news. That complaint has been everyone's complaint about supermarkets going back about 50-60 years that I'm aware of.

IMO, neither is WF so fabulously maintained - and it definitely has a lousy layout that REQUIRES shoppers to go up & down escalators and then walk what feels like miles to find what you want. Then wait wait wait to pay. All that, so that Bezos can make his zillion bucks for the day. No thanks.

TJ's is for those who have lots of time to shop in the crowded aisles, and then also have time to wait on the big conga-line to pay for their purchases. Again, no thanks.

I had a family member who was the manager of a supermarket in Queens in the 1960's-1970's, and it had to have been one of the most thankless jobs ever. The profits even then were very thin, and the effort to keep things going well was endless.

Anonymous said...

big loss, the only reliable working coinstar in manhattan

PJ said...

Anyone remember the Food Emporium jingle from the 80s ? "Someone made a store just for meee. Someone's got my kind of qua-ha-lit-eee".

Anonymous said...

@1:37 PM

Keep in mind that Amazon bought WF and that location was there way before Amazon was involved.

What's happening next door in the former space of Forever 21? Amazon is taking over and expanding to address all those issues you mentioned.

Amazon is an operations company and are focused on customer experience. Clearly the USQ WF layout is not ideal, and they're addressing it.

I find it humorous when people are so quick to make comments like "I'm not going to wait while Bezos can make his zillion bucks for the day. No thanks"

The last thing I want to do is sit here and defend Bezos, but I think there is a base-level understanding that needs to be established.

Anonymous said...

While their prices in general were high they had good quality meat at reasonable prices in cuts you couldn’t get at TJs or some other places. Plus many of the staff have been there for a very long time and will now be unemployed and I feel very bad for them.

GayNYCDad said...

It is ridiculously overpriced. Any time I walked in there it felt like they were just outright targeting the Zeckendorf renters and overcharging as much as they could.

Anonymous said...

@3:23pm: "I find it humorous when people are so quick to make comments like "I'm not going to wait while Bezos can make his zillion bucks for the day. No thanks""

I find it humorous that you so distorted the intention & meaning of my comment.

Defend WF all you want, but there's a reason it was called "Whole Paycheck" long, long before Amazon got involved.

Everyone knows Amazon doesn't do *anything* out of the goodness of their corporate heart (b/c Amazon doesn't have a heart).

It's ALL and ONLY about the bottom line, in the end.

So no, I'm not going to patronize WF with their current annoying layout, nor will I patronize them when they've finished sending out their tentacles to take over an adjacent space.

If Bezos actually wants to provide a high level of customer service, he either shouldn't have kept that WF open, or he should have re-configured it a long time ago. THAT would have actually represented a company that is (as you claim) "focused on customer experience."

As it currently stands, and YEARS after Amazon bought WF, the line that customers have to wait on to pay at WF represents a substantial failure on Amazon's part, IMO. That's b/c time is money ... including for the customers!

BagelGuy said...

Kissed both of these places goodbye years ago. Farmers Market. Support local and better quality produce.

Tommy Raiko said...

I'm gonna miss this Food Emporium, definitely, and hope that the affected employees are treated well and land on their feet. I'm not a huge fan of Trader Joe's, but I don't mind Whole Foods as much as some. For some staples--canned goods, etc.--their prices are actually a bit better than you might find elsewhere--so the "Whole Paycheck" moniker never stuck me as fair.

Westside Market at 3rd Ave and 12th is getting more of my grocery shopping lately, especially for produce. I imagine I'll be heading there more when Food Emporium finally closes...

Anonymous said...

WF's is fine and so is TJ.
But, they are not the everything, as fine as they are.
A regular supermarket is still needed.
Tue, Food Emporium was always overpriced,
but it was also the only real supermarket around.
Once FE goes, there wont be any real supermarket
around for that whole big area.

Brian Van said...

I feel the entire "real supermarket" vibe that we may be losing here.

That said, a truth is that it was a niche provider for me. I did not like buying produce there, I didn't think they offered anything critical in the non-food groceries selection (literally all that stuff is available at Walgreens/CVS/DR). They didn't have a great butcher or fishmarket section, those were passable. The deli section was edible (that's saying a lot!) but mediocre. That leaves the rest of the food groceries - they had a superior selection, but it wasn't price-competitive & a lot of it was junk food.

Someone mentioned Westside Market. Their locations fit a LOT of SKUs/products into a small space. They're as reliable for the same foods as Food Emporium. I'd rather have both, but I can live with one of them & not miss the other.

I am still surprised FE is vacating ahead of their move-out deadlines. I would estimate that they wouldn't want to pay an increased rent to keep the space, but I wouldn't have guessed that they weren't motivated to stay put at whatever rent they're paying now. They seem to get good foot traffic without crazy lines. People hate the lines at Trader Joe's (that's why TJ built another one on the same block!) and also don't care for the lines/crowds at Whole Foods (which is why New York is getting swarmed with them, Union Square Commuters have 5 Whole Foods within easy commuting distance & a sixth is coming this year to 27th/Madison). Food Emporium had an audience, but apparently there's something else going on here & it isn't going to matter much if their customers pay an attentive visit to Westside Market sometime.

And if you really want that "mass market groceries" experience there are suggestions in Gramercy and the East Village/ABC. I think the only people really being put out by this are FE customers living in Zeckendorf. One subway stop away is a Morton Williams on 22nd/Park that is smaller, and that I hate, but it has almost all the same things.

Anonymous said...

NO! I love this Food Emporium. It has very fresh produce, a wide range of food and non-food items and a lovely staff.

Soon we'll be left with no real grocery stores.

Beacon, NY said...

Nothing beats the Union Square Greenmarket in the area as a grocery shopping snob.

But this is a NYC phenomenon.

North of NYC the local farmer's market is where you actually get a chance to socialize with someone who produces food.

Anonymous said...

Sad. While this place is a bit more expensive and customer service was pretty awful, I liked its wide selection of beers for a reasonable price. Seriously they have some gems and rare beers that you normally don’t come across at a supermarket

Anonymous said...

People, there is WestSide Market not far and very fine.

Anonymous said...

Time is money which is one of the reasons I REFUSE to shop at WF and TJ. Getting in and out of the stores are always a problem and shouldn’t be. Plus I’m not impressed with the prices or selections at either stores. If more people Refused to support monopolies like Amazon or WF maybe they would get the message like better pricing, speed, and customer satisfaction are an important part of business. I’d like to see the ‘Monopolies’ overturned in exchange for more realistic price conscious establishments.

Anonymous said...

I was just in FE earlier today and I agree, all the produce was fresh, everything was well organized, I was surprised to find some unique items, I purchased more than expected, and was out in a flash. Can’t say that about WF or TJ. And the pricing was good compared to say, Westside Market. It’s a changing world. Supermarkets are becoming a thing of the past, monopolies are taking over, and customer service is just about non-existent. We’re living in sad times, and people have lost touch with earlier experiences and more satisfying ways of shopping or doing business.

nightshades said...

Any more coinstars in the neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

@nightshades - there's a Coinstar on the lower level of the Astor Place KMart.

Anonymous said...

Forget Whole Prudes and Trader Bros, C-Town just got a deli counter!

Anonymous said...

"Whole Prudes and Trader Bros"

ok that's pretty funny

Anonymous said...

“Okay Boomer” at most of this thread...the community has voted with their wallet for the grocery stores they want in the East Village. There is no shortage, just stores that gave people what they wanted versus Food Emporium

Anonymous said...

Good riddance to a way overpriced store. People in that neighborhood don’t want to shop at grandma’s dinky and overpriced supermarkets run by Key Food. Key food has 270 stores, so not exactly mom and pop. There’s great produce at the farmers market and street vendors. And fix the escalator too!

Beacon, NY said...

It's pretty bad that only Whole Foods carries local produce grown out of a upscale "basement" in Brooklyn while the run in the mill super market in your neighborhood only sells fruits and vegetables mass produced in corporate farms somewhere where tornadoes and sub freezing temps are found.

This disconnect isn't a disconnect if one understands that America is strictly about money, profits and one's social status.

Anonymous said...

I worked at this FE from July 2007 to November 2014, what a shame this store is closing. The store was there before it's was a Food Emporium and under a different name. My heart goes out to the employees, I worked and knew some of them.

Me said...

Everyone has a point but all markets like this serve a purpose for those who want to pay the prevailing price for what they want at the service level they are willing to tolerate. For those who want something they have once in a while, paying an extra dollar for it and being out in 5 minutes is worth it and won't break the bank. Likewise for those who just like what they have and have the $$ to pay for it. There are many who can't get into the Euro-like paradigm of going to TJ's on Tuesday, WF on Wednesday and filling in at Target or FE for the rest at any price just to get what they need.

Anonymous said...

The 4th St Food Co-op is a wonderful option. 58 E. 4th St

Anonymous said...

Key food may have many stores but they are individually owned so yes they are Mom and Pop.

Anonymous said...

Key food stores are individually owned. Amazon is a huge corporation that can afford anything thrown its way

Unknown said...

I won'tiss Food Emporium at all!!!!!! It's always been stupidly overpriced, even on normal its. Even Whole Foods has better des, and better quality And TJ's is just plain better. I'm sad about Associated
, but not Food Emporium. Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

Honestly grew up with the store so its sad to see. I'm just really gonna miss the exchange machines that turned your coins into dollars as I am a saver of coins lol. rip.