NoLibs Superfresh Opens With Early Morning Roof Deck Suit-and-Tie Party
It finally happened. The Northern Liberties grocery market has opened, and it’s taken the form of a Superfresh. Be happy, very cool NoLibs resident!
There was a mayor’s press conference and all out suit-and-tie party on the roof deck parking lot of 2nd and Girard this morning, from where you can see all of Northern Liberties and probably a pretty good view of the skyline, if only this morning’s sky weren’t so damn milky.
Shoppers were strolling in and out of the store smiling like hand-picked research test subjects while Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Darrell Clarke, Developer Bart Blatstein, A&P (which owns Pathmark and Superfresh) CEO Sam Martin and UFCW Rep. Al Vincent spoke to an audience of about 50.
Politicians mostly credited Blatstein with creating and going through with the project.
“[Blatstein] had the vision to see the good solid neighborhood with folks who cared and think that he could do some reach out, but they told him that the market wouldn’t bear it,” State Rep. O’Brien said to the crowd. “So he went out and helped create his own neighborhood: He built the Piazza. And over the years…he never took his eye off the prize, was always steadfast.”
When we spoke to Blatstein upon A&P filing for bankruptcy last summer, he said the Pathmark was still set to open and that it was actually going to be a new, improved “Higher End” version of Pathmark. “It’s ironic,” we quoted him saying at the time, “because Pathmark and A&P will emerge as a much stronger company…They’re getting rid of their old baggage so the company can reemerge stronger and with a better direction.”
Now that it’s open as a Superfresh, you don’t see too many people upset about the many delays in construction or the company’s troubles.
“I don’t know what size [the store] is but I know it’s big,” said Councilman Clarke to laughs. “I have no idea how many employees it is, but I know it’s a lot. All that good stuff. I just want to say how happy I am about what’s going on in this neighborhood.”
Clarke claimed he would be shopping at the Superfresh, too, and ripped former half-term Governor Sarah Palin in his remarks, saying he could see the Superfresh from his house.
The store itself is 51,000 square feet and features most of the stuff grocery stores feature (Bisquick, frozen meatballs, baby food, Tropicana, and more). But it’s also got a sushi bar, hot foods, free cake and free samples all over the place (Note: those last two examples are likely only today…perhaps only this morning; really good cake, though).
Blatstein said A&P has a long history ahead of it, and though he didn’t actually say the word “bankruptcy,” it was implied.
Amongst all the high end A.M. partying, the Pink Dolphin, a convenience store in the Piazza, just a block away from the new Superfresh, sat almost empty. Amongst the small aisles lined with health-friendly snacks were three customers – two of whom were wearing “Superfresh” T-shirts and had likely been helping promote the store’s opening today.
For people like Sal Gonzalez, who works the counter at the Pink Dolphin, a new large store a block away means one thing: Competition.
“There are a lot of regulars that come in here,” he says. “I’m sure those customers are going to continue coming in here. It’s convenient, it’s where they live. But with Superfresh opening up, it’s competition. So you wonder what’s going to happen down the road. When you build a rapport with people that’s strong enough, even though it’s a little more expensive here than there, it means something.”
The owner of Pink Dolphin declined an interview with PW.
“There’s no way to know right now [what affect Superfresh will have on Pink Dolphin]. I mean, it’s the first day,” Gonzalez says. “But it’s possible there might be some problems because, I guess, being a convenience store and located where it is, near Superfresh… then again, if people are just coming downstairs from upstairs, I guess we can hope some people are going to be lazy.”