A long line stretched across the Douglaston Shopping Plaza’s parking lot Wednesday morning as eager shoppers awaited the opening of the borough’s first Fairway Market.
A bevy of elected officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and community leaders turned out to cut the ribbon on the high-end supermarket, which is Fairway’s largest chain store in the five boroughs.
“Like the signs tell you, it is like no other market,” the mayor said of the store.
But Howard Glickberg, Fairway’s CEO, said the store’s debut was a .
“If you came here one year ago, this was an empty store,” he said. “Look at what we’ve accomplished.”
Fairway had originally been scheduled to replace the Waldbaum’s store in the Douglaston plaza in spring 2010, but was pushed back several times amid an extensive process during which the market attempted to obtain a building permit and a variance for a larger storefront sign as well as work out interior issues with Con Edison.
Residents at Deepdale Gardens and other northeast Queens co-ops have been forced to shop at Stop and Shop on Northern Boulevard and Waldbaum’s on Union Turnpike in Glen Oaks following the Douglaston Waldbaum’s closure.
Dan Glickberg, whose grandfather founded Fairway, said the new market would provide a service that has long been absent in the community.
“Today is about great food and making it accessible to the people of Queens,” he said.
Shoppers began lining up early in the morning to get into the store, which officially opened at 11 a.m.
“We’ve needed a food market here,” Douglaston resident Tom Pinto said as he waited in line outside the store with his shopping cart. “We’re very happy about this. It’s a more organic market.”
Shopper Ron Spaeth said he traveled from Forest Hills to check out the market.
“I’m looking for good healthy stuff,” he said. “I might stock up and fill my freezer.”
Fairway, located at 242-02 61st Ave., will prepare its own food, roast its own coffee, bake its own bread and offer an inventory of more than 600 cheeses. It also has an on-site butcher, both kosher and non-kosher.
The 56,000-square-foot store’s aisles will be stocked with 45,000 traditional, specialty and organic groceries, including oils imported directly from Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Australia and California.
Its café will seat 60 patrons, while its parking lot has space for more than 400 vehicles.
Charles Santorum, Fairway’s chairman, said the store has created 460 jobs and that the supermarket chain plans to open two new stores in the five boroughs within the next year.
The Douglaston store’s hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Fairway, which was founded by Nathan Glickberg in 1940 as a fruit and vegetable stand at the corner of Broadway and West 74th Street, also operates markets in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester County, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony was also attended by state Sens. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, and Toby Stavisky, D-Whitestone, as well as state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Councilman Mark Weprin, D-Oakland Gardens, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, Forest Hills, Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik and Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece.
During his time at the podium, Weprin managed to sneak in a reference to the situation at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.
“It’s going to be a very big anchor for the community,” he said of the store. “But while you can shop here all you like, the mayor is not going to let you sleep in Fairway.”