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Jul 27, 2001 08:19 PM

Long Island Fairway: Cheese Caution!

  • j

I just updated my Fairway review (link below) to reflect the bad, bad things going on in the cheese dept. there. Service is even more awful, uninformed, contemptuous, Fawlty-Towers level bumbling and unprofessional than when the store first opened. But, worse, a lot of the cheese is no good, either. I've tried a bunch of stuff there recently, and much has been dried out, insipid, or simply long past due.

The store hasn't been open long enough for this to reflect a problem of old stock. It's clearly that the cheese people, incompetent in every other way, are equally inept when it comes to storing the stuff. No big surprise there.

The selection is great, and it's not all bad. In fact, I've had some really wonderful cheese (last time, a superb aged gouda). But don't even think of buying cheese here without trying it first. And avoid the prepackaged stuff entirely (even, sob, the Old Chatham).



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  1. Jim,

    Unfortunately, it's not just the cheese department that's showing poorly. Since what seemed to be an enormously successful opening--both on a business level and a performance level--quality and service has declined.

    The problems you cite with the cheese are just one example. But as one who has shopped there roughly three times a week since the opening, the kinds of problems I'm seeing are widespread. The store has been out of stock on what should be staples, such as their own orange juice. Some items that one takes for granted at other high-end markets, such as the nearby Sutton Place, aren't carried by Fairway--creme fraiche and blood oranges, to name two. (Yes, Sutton is outrageously overpriced, but they have the goods.)

    Check-out lines, nonexistent in the first month or two when Fairway was more crowded, are becoming a regular problem. Enough cashiers have an odd patronizing manner toward customers as to raise the question of why this would be so. Sunday newspapers have regularly been missing sections. A parking lot valet, whose sole job seemed to be to return used shopping carts to the kiosks, was careless and slammed a cart into an auto. It's difficult to find anyone on the floor to ask about various products--where to find them, whether the store stocks them, etc. And yet requests at customer service to see managers are met with displeasure by the desk agent and treated with indifference by some managers.

    I'm going to contact the store manager regarding these and other problems. A Fairway market performing to its potential would be a great asset. But things have deteriorated so quickly, and in so many areas, that I wonder whether that will be the case.

    If I receive a substantive reply, I'll post details back here.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Peter Hirdt

      Peter--thanks for chiming in. Yes, the checkout women are downright toxic, and all the other things you mention point to really poor management. I'm not sure anything but an approach to the top dog (perhaps of the whole chain) would help...their middle management and lower top-level obviously are clueless.

      The potato pizza and salady food items in the food court are still impressive, though. And check out the peanut butter cereal (like Kix, but witha peanut butter flavor) that's currently on special. It's kind of good.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        your so must taste all chesses for freshness before buying but with that idea in mind i have been very pleased with my choices and selections
        the mimolette is consistantly poor but ive been pleased with a hybred gouda provolone....I also find it a little annoying all chesses are priced 1/4 lb.......really who buys a 1/4 pound of cheese.
        The help does leave a lot to be desired,on my last trip, another customer asked if a certain cheese was Italian........the response from the young lady was " from Honduras"
        I have has similar communication probelems at both the deli and meat counters.......a request for some pancetta produced a package of Vermont Chedda

        1. re: jpa
          Wendy Leonard

          I buy most of my cheese from Fairway in Plainview these days and the word is, caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. A lot of the cheese is overripe and stored improperly and the staff knows absolutely nothing. Taste everything before you buy it; the only cheeses you can get away without trying are the very hard cheeses and the hard goat cheeses; those you can buy by sight. You can buy excellent cheeses here and I do, but you really have to know what you are doing. As we get into the warmer weather we can expect to see the cheeses there further deteriorate.

          By the way, the Pane Pugliese at Fairway is my favorite locally available bread to eat with the cheeses. Has anyone else noticed how painfully slow they are though? Buying a few cheeses and four loaves of bread, sliced, takes practically 45 minutes!

      2. re: Peter Hirdt

        A month has passed since I posted on the many problems that have developed at the new Fairway in Plainview. I sent the posting to the store manager, asking him to explain why the store has declined so rapidly, or whether he thought my impressions were invalid.

        No response.

        1. re: Peter Hirdt

          In reading these old posts, I'm curious whether or not the good folks at Fairway have the newer stores up to the 74thSt. standard.

          1. re: kycheesemonger

            I shop in Red Hook and i find everything spotty. I was a regular at the Bway location in the 70s-80s and the 125th st when it opened. Shopping was a highlight of my day! Now, its catch as catch can- especially with produce. But it is always worth it for the selection of other products- such as gluten free choices, coffee and teas.

            1. re: kycheesemonger

              I can't say, not having shopped there, but the cheese in the cases is often way past its prime, by a very long shot.

              1. re: kycheesemonger

                I've only been in the Manhattanville and Red Hook stores and have had basically the same experience. I always bring the reading glasses so I can check the sell by dates on everything.

                1. re: kycheesemonger

                  Lived on LI for a while a few years back - 03-04 and never had a problem with either the service or the quality of the cheeses at the Plainview Fairway. We never bought the pre-cut and packaged items with the exception of Parm. Reg and Grana Padano so don't know about the freshness of the others. However the fresh cut were great, the service we had were most often although not always knowledgeable and professional. The prices were extremely fair, the selection wonderful and varied.

                  Also never had a problem with attitude from anyone - deli, butcher, seafood, cashiers, coffee, management so can't relate to the complaints above.

                2. re: Peter Hirdt

                  Maybe I was lucky, but I just bought a Bavarian bleu that was the best bleu we ever had, and it was pre-wrapped too. This was in Plainview,

              2. I have to agree with laylag. I've never had a problem with cheese, meat, dairy, or produce at the Plainview Fairway. Food has always been fresh, service exemplary, and everyone's attitude helpful. Of course, due diligence is necessary no matter where you shop--taste the cheese, smell the meat. We're dealing with perishable items. Bottom line is, I make the trip from Bayside out to Plainview every other week for good reason. There's no place even remotely comparable any closer to home.