Its slogan is Like No Other Market and—from the looks of the line that ran hundreds deep outside the new Fairway grocery store in nearby Woodland Park early Wednesday—a lot of people believe it.
"We don't get much excitement around here and, no doubt about it, this is exciting," said Bonnie Peak, one of those waiting patiently for the doors to open to the public at 11 a.m.
The atmosphere in the shopping plaza on Route 46, home to Kohl's, GameStop, and Barnes & Noble, was circus-like, with bubbly Fairway employees trying their best to keep those waiting in line happy by passing out coupons while seeking to prevent a stampede.
"We don't want anybody to get hurt and there are a lot of kids around here," said one worker. "We know you've been waiting a long time but we need everyone to be calm."
A stampede? A line that snaked as long as the eye could see? For a grocery store? This Montclair Patch editor, who grew up around sprawling grocery stores in Texas, wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
Among grocery stores, Fairway, the popular Manhattan-based food market, has always been a destination retailer.
And, after taking a quick tour, it's easy to see why.
Not only does Fairway offer a good stock of pretty produce and prepared foods, but it boasts a huge Fairway Wine & Spirits shop, featuring over 600 wines and hundreds of spirits, neatly divided up between "Old World" and "New World."
Indeed, it's a bit disarming for a Montclair resident to come upon an aisle packed with beer—in a grocery store. And there isn't just the likes of Amstel Light, which is priced at $15.99 for a case. There also are unusual varieties such as an Indian pale ale called Titan as well as Fuller's London Pride.
The new Fairway, about four miles from Montclair, is the second Fairway in the Garden State. The new 62,000-square-foot location includes a cheese section with more than 600 cheeses on display, everything from Drunken Goat to Spanish Clara to Rustico Aged Manchego.
There's also a large olive bar that includes Festive Olives, Kalamata Olives, and Lemon Stuffed Olives. Across the aisle is a selection of more than 100 varieties of olive oils including un-filtered barrel oils imported from Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Australia, and California. An impressive bulk grain section gives customers access to Garbanzo Beans, Yellow Corn Grits, and Red Split Lentils, among many other choices. In addition, there is a Kosher bakery, a large selection of Gluten-Free groceries, and hand-selected dry aged prime beef.
In the middle of the store is a 60-seat full service cafe offering more than 50 hot and cold dishes, and stations for chopped salads, coffee, paninis, sandwiches, and sushi.
In general, the prices here don't seem over the top; a can of Del Monte corn was $1.19 while Fresh Jumbo Shrimp was $5.99 a pound.
"We're confident shoppers will be impressed by what we have to offer, an incredible selection of foods for every appetite and budget," said Howie Glickberg, vice chairman of development and grandson of the founder.
Fairway was founded in 1933 as a modest 3,500-square-foot fruit and vegetable market on the Upper West Side. Today there are 10 food stores and three wine and spirits shops in the tri-state area, employing approximately 3,900 people.
Fairway, located at 1510 U.S. 46 West (off Browertown Road) in the Kohl's Shopping Center, is open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
What do you think? Will you check out Fairway? Tell us in the comments section below.