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New Food Store in Downtown Brooklyn?

Brownstoner.com, a blog focused on Brooklyn real estate recently ran the following item:

"Which Foodie Is Coming to Court and State?

Who just signed the retail lease in the new building at the corner of State and Court in Brooklyn Heights? That was the question that had members of the audience scratching their heads at last week's quarterly Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable held at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The corner location, which includes about 2,500 square feet on the ground floor and another 2,500 in the basement, just rented at a record-high $125 a foot after "long and protracted" negotiations, according to Massey Knakal senior partner Tim King. As to who the tenant is, King would only drop the tantalizing clue that it's a company that's been in the food production biz for the last hundred years. The two that leapt to our mind—Zabar's and Di Palo—only go back to the 1930s, so scratch them. An announcement is expected in the next week or two, but we thought if we all put our heads together, maybe we could figure it out. Ideas?

Anyone have information or insight?

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  1. Others have pointed out that Gristedes has been around for over 100 years.....

    But food "production"? Hey there, Katz's! ;-0)

    6 Replies
    1. re: Xiao Yang

      2,500 sf seems way too small for a Gristedes or any other supermarket in that space. Doesn't that seem way too small? I mean, if I'm not mistaken, most Whole Foods stores are around 50,000 sf. Maybe some smaller ones are 30,000 sf.

      As a point of reference, does anyone know roughly how many square feet Sahadi's store is? (And on this Thanksgiving Eve, lets all give thanks that the Sahadis own the building that they are in on Atlantic. Hopefully, that will help them deal with all the real estate changes in Brooklyn.) Or does anyone know of any other examples of operating retail spaces that are about 2,500 sf?

      Now I'm dying to know what will be opening at 119 Court. It has to be something that can afford that kind of rent. 2,500 sf at $125/ft! You do the math. ;-) So I'm thinking <sigh> a chain. Why are they being so mysterious? Maybe the deal isn't completely done yet?

      I guess, after the New Balance store moved into the building next store for also hefty rent, anything could happen. What were the New Balance store people thinking when they opened there? I rarely see anyone in that store.

      I could see something like a retail store for 5 Boroughs Ice Cream working in that space. But they're way too new (short of 100 years by ninetysomething) and probably could not afford that rent.

      1. re: Kitchop

        Well, it's 5,000 sf if they use the basement space. To compound the mystery, the Brooklyn Paper says it's a "National chain." AG Ferrari comes to mind, they could fit in a space like that, but they've only been around for 80 years. OTOH, the Brooklyn Paper referred to the quote as "about" 100 years, and the realtor could be using a bit of hyperbole. (But realtors don't use hyperbole, do they?)


        1. re: Xiao Yang

          There is also a food store/restaurant opening at 111 Court Street.

          1. re: heightsfamily

            It is almost a confirmed rumor that Trader Joe's is opening in the old bank building in the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street. Truth be told, I dont care what else opens, TJ is all I need.

            On a sad note, on Atlantic near Clintono (acress from Sahadi's, an Urban Outfitterrs is opening. Grmph!)

            1. re: cookiecat123

              Its not an almost confirmed rumor. its been true for quite some time.

              1. re: Ljubitca

                Not so fast. Worked has stopped. From what I understand this may not happen due to a dispute with the buildings owner.

    2. Also of note - a supermarket is opening in the State Renaissance Court - at 200 Schermerhorn St (corner of Hoyt St). Brooklyn Papers quoted the building management as saying that it will be an "upscale grocery store", although anything will be welcome. The are has been underserved ever since the C-Town closed about a decade ago. (Not that that store was worthing going to - it was rather disgusting.)

      1. Still no news on what mysterious new tenant -- a 100-year old national chain in "food production" -- is coming soon to 117-119 Court Street (@ Court and State Streets)?
        I would have thought some Chowhounder would have somehow cracked this case by now. ;-) Why are they keeping this such a big mystery? Given that the three retail spaces in the building next door went to a bank, New Balance sneakers and Lens Crafters, I guess I shouldn't get too hopeful. But still....I am curious, if not hopeful.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Kitchop

          Boar's Head is supposedly opening a store in Brooklyn that will serve as a prototype for their new franchise. This could be the place.

          1. re: MikeinCH

            Boar's Head? Really? As in the deli meats that already seem widely available everywhere? Well, that's disappointing, if true. Where did you get this info? It does fit the description given since Boar's Head Provisions is a food production company that was started in Brooklyn close to 100 years ago. So, what are Boar's Head stores going to be? Delis, I presume? I'm so not excited.

            ETA that, oh no, this really might be it. Boar's Head was started in Brooklyn in 1905 -- which means, since it is now 2008, the company has literally passed its 100-year old birthday.

            1. re: MikeinCH

              This is what I read as well. They have a kiosk in the jetblue terminal at JFK with touch-screen ordering. I've never seen any stores otherwise.

              1. re: bhill

                Thank you for confirming that you read this too. I fly Jet Blue whenever I can and actually have two Jet Blue tix booked right now but I never noticed a Boars Head kiosk in the JFK terminal. That might be useful for grabbing a sandwich for a flight sometime. I'm still not excited about a Boars Head store on Court St or anywhere really. It just seems like so many delis, bagel shops, groceries, etc already sell Boars Head products. Oh, well. It's not as useless as another bank, chain drug store or real estate office.

                1. re: Kitchop

                  I think I might be the only person who believes that - should Boar's Head actually open a store here - this is a good idea.

                  Yes, many places sell Boar's Head, but not everyone does a good job with it. I pass by a kind of nasty deli that sells Boar's Head sandwiches for $3 to go to one that sells them for $5. Why, because the second deli takes care into what they put on the sandwich, don't overstuff them, and generally want you to have a good experience, not just fill your belly. It's kind of the principals that City Sub in Park Slope was founded on - they use run of the mill ingredients and turn out a fairly decent product.

                  Are there better cold cuts than Boar's Head? Sure, but they're (La Quercia, Virginia ham, jamon iberrico pata negra, Salumeria Biellese, etc.) very expensive and not something you'd want all the time.

                  Now, if only they'll make an old Isaly's recipe - Pittsburgh-style BBQ chipped-ham - I'll be a happy camper.

                  1. re: lambretta76

                    Ah yes! We called it chip-chopped ham in Cleveland. Not sure I'm brave enough to eat that stuff these days.

                    1. re: HankyT

                      It's better than I remembered, but then again I made it with better BBQ sauce, but OMG was it good.

                      1. re: lambretta76

                        There is no Boars Head Cafe coming to Court Street. Try not to take stories from Blogs as fact.

                        1. re: heightsfamily

                          And why is it still such a BIG secret? I walk by it often on my way to swimming at the Y at Court & Atlantic. At this point, I'm cynically assuming that it will eventually reveal itself to be yet another useless retailer of some sort. I'll be pleasantly surprised if it turns out to be anything remotely useful. I'm looking forward to Trader Joe's though.

                          BTW, I got a sandwich from the Boar's Head kiosk in the Jet Blue terminal at JFK in February because I was running late and needed something to eat. Without Chowhound, I would never have even known Boar's Head existed at JFK/JetBlue. It was edible but left me feeling like there is absolutely no reason for Boars Head to start a chain of their own stores. Glad to hear that Court & State site will not be a Boars Head Cafe.

            1. re: Ljubitca

              It hasn't been released publicly. It's always better to say that you don't know rather then to start rumors. I called Boar's Head Corporate and they said that there would "NOT" be a store on Court Street.

            2. Well, the sign is up in this space, and they're hiring. It's going to be ...

              Well, I forgot. Walked by on Saturday, got sidetracked, and totally blanked on the name. It's been around since 1949 I believe the advert said, and they were holding hiring sessions down at the Brooklyn Marriott. I had never heard of the company before, but it was definitely not Boar's Head. If anyone is in the nabe, the sign's up.

              7 Replies
              1. re: lambretta76

                I walked by on my way to swim at the Y yesteday and saw the sign too. And although I've lived in Brooklyn for 25 years, I too cannot remember the name of the company opening there because I am totally unfamiliar with it. The sign definitely said "Since 1949" (which is not 100 years but whatever). It said it would be a deli. The name was Italian and began with an "M". Mazzenetti or Manzanelli or something like that. Is this enough of a clue for anyone to fill us in?

                1. re: Kitchop

                  I drove by quickly in a cab last night on the way home from the airport. I think I saw "F. Martinelli" Does that sound right?

                  1. re: seb

                    I walked past the new yogurt place on Court across from the movie theatre and there was a reporter from the Brooklyn Paper camped out interviewing people about the many frozen yogurt places popping up around there. According to her, a frozen yogurt place (Red panda?) is moving into the space next to the New Balance Store. And she said another frozen yogurt place is moving in further down on Court st.

                    1. re: chocolatefancy

                      yes, I saw those signs too from the cab: Red Mango & Yogo Monster

                      1. re: chocolatefancy

                        Red Mango is the original Korean frozen yogurt chain that started the "frozen natural yogurt" craze. The owner of Pinkberry tried it when in Seoul and ripped off the concept and opened in CA before coming to NYC. Red Mango has just recently come over to the States and is expanding at a decent clip.

                      2. re: seb

                        LOL at how anyone who actually sees and reads the sign instantly forgets the name of the company. I'm not sure, but Martinelli sounds like it might be right. But......what is it? Has anyone heard of a Martinelli food company (operating since 1949)? Where has it operated since 1949? In NYC? Is it some kind of upscale Balducci's-like company? Or what?

                        1. re: Kitchop

                          Well - they should rework their branding if no one can remember the name! I'm more curious what they're going to do with that horrible staircase going down to the basement right in the middle of the store.

                          I'd say the owners of the Chinese restaurant should have stuck to making Chinese food instead of designing interiors, but their food wasn't very good, either!

                          Regardless, it'll be interesting to see what goes in here.

                  2. I don't know if this is the same place (an old Independence Bank building) but I did see a banner out there saying "Trader Joes Now Hiring" on Court Street.

                    28 Replies
                    1. re: MrsT

                      Thanks but that's a different retail space. Some of us have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Trader Joe's in the old bank spot for months now and it appears that it will be happening soon. There's a lot of new retail leasing going on at that corner. The space recently leased to the mystery (Martinelli?) company that I'm talking about is 119 Court St (at the corner of State?) right next to one of the new about to open frozen yogurt places across from the movie theatre.

                      1. re: MrsT

                        I too was downtown today...Trader Joe's is coming to the southwest corner of Court and Atlantic.

                        1. re: Eggsactley

                          TJ's will be opening towards the end of September.

                          1. re: fishermb

                            Thanks. There are other huge threads on Trader Joe's opening this fall at Court and Atlantic. There are also other threads about the multiple frozen yogurt stores opening on Court nearby. This thread is trying to uncover the great mystery of the "M" store at 119 Court St. I know it's going to be very anti-climatic since it's been a question since they first announced their cryptic clues in January. I guess I just have a bee in my bonnet since I walk by there frequently and have been wondering on and off.

                            1. re: Kitchop

                              hah! same here. I think it said F. Martinella, but still no results in Google.

                              1. re: EJC

                                I passed by the other day. It is called F. Martinella. The sign up says that it was established in 1949 (where?, and why can't i find a record of it on the internet? intrigue me). The sign also says it is "A Fine Delicatessen" and "A Unique Deli and Catering Experience". I guess we'll find out what that means in a few months.
                                Also, there's a phone # up and they're intereviewing at the Marriott if anybody needs a job.

                                1. re: Mike11201

                                  this store is being bank rolled by the boars head corporation , the owner of boars head is bobby martin so hence MARTINella,
                                  so in a nut shell boars head plans to open mulitiple stores and put the small operator out of business who has been buying theyre products and supporting theyre company for as long as they have been in business.

                                  1. re: vital action

                                    This really sounds like a [searching for the right word] -- bad --business plan. So, for starters, Martinella has just been created in 2008 and has not existed since 1949 as they claim. What? Did they just pick that date out of a hat or something? And, as you said, their product is already widely and successfully distributed and now they want to try to replace that distribution system that has served them so well? I'm not impressed.

                                    1. re: Kitchop

                                      For the most part I'm pretty sure that Hounds would rather see mom and pop places opening up rather than a big company like Boars Head. However, it may make financial sense to go retail, especially as they're doing it under a different name and thus probably not cannibalizing their distributed brand. I don't expect to eat there, but they may just know what they're doing.

                                      1. re: bhill

                                        I guess we will have to wait and see what the plan actually is. But if they will be selling Boars Head brand and cannibalizing the mom and pop delis that have been selling BH forever, I will stick with the mom and pops. If their plan is to ultimately make Boars Head harder to find unless you go to a Martinella store, well, then I guess I just don't care about Boars Head brand that much. I do find the whole "Martinella - Since 1949" thing very annoying.

                                        1. re: Kitchop

                                          Not knowing any of the facts here and not knowing just what this place will be, my mind is open. But in the event that anyone from Martinellas is following this discussion let me state quite clearly: given the hint of fraudulent 'history' (and I will stand corrected if presented with good documentation), I will not even consider setting foot in this place without some official establishment of just who they are and where they were in 1949. I may sometimes be a fool but I refuse to played for one. If they think they can win my bizniz by creating a myth (lie)---sorry. It ain't quaint. It's just jive.
                                          I will require a sign on the wall or a press release or something. Hey---if it turns out that they were a pushcart in some alley back then, cool. Welcome to the hood. And if their back story is just the product of some PR firm..... well, I guess they should have spent more money and gotten a firm that doesn't have contempt for the public.

                                    2. re: vital action

                                      Food retail (F. Martinella) and food distribution (Boar’s Head) are two completely different business models, with the former taking a pounding judging by the amount of casual eateries they have filed for bankruptcy within the last year. And what other locales are they opening up stores – just curious?

                                      1. re: vital action

                                        Boar's Head CEO: Robert S. Martin
                                        Boar's Head President Michael Martella

                                        Martin + Martella = Martinella

                                        As for the 1949 I have no idea...

                                        1. re: bhill

                                          Wow - seriously? That's hilarious.

                                          1. re: lambretta76

                                            I know, right? So the web says.

                                            Hey. is that your orange Lambretta that's been parked on the corner of Pacific and Smith for, like, forever?

                                            1. re: bhill

                                              I wish - haven't had one since college. Actually, that's a pretty run down Lambretta IIRC, so maybe I don't wish that was mine ;)

                                          2. re: bhill

                                            Thank you (and vital action) for cracking the code on the mysterious Martinella company name. I guess Boar's Head CFO (Blair Waldick) doesn't have as big a stake in this new venture.

                                            The only reason I was the least bit curious about this is because I walk by this location so frequently (and therefore was a potential customer). But, at this point, my curiosity has just turned to annoyance. Sure we're talking about it. It momentarily got my attention. But now I have no intention of going there.

                                            This company has some terrible PR people. First, they created this big mystery that they dragged out since last January. What it turned out to be is very anti-climactic. Then, if Boars Head was started in Brooklyn in 1905 (and is now apparently based in Florida), why in the world did they choose "Martinella -- Since 1949"? If not the truth (Since 2008), why not go with 1905? Makes no sense and, more importantly, makes me not trust them at all.

                                            1. re: Kitchop

                                              I hear ya Kitchop. I guess I'm just not surprised ever since I learned that Haagen Dazs was actually from Brooklyn, and not Scandinavia; )

                                              1. re: bhill

                                                Actually Haagen Dazs is from the Bronx.

                                                1. re: bobjbkln

                                                  You're right. Their first retail store was in Brooklyn.

                                                2. re: bhill

                                                  There's an article in the Brooklyn Paper today, 9/10/08 about this F. Martinella/Boars Head store. The whole idea seems so bizarrely ordinary and unexciting to me. Can they really believe this will be a store that "people will go out of their way to go to"? I think they must be out of their minds.


                                                  1. re: Kitchop

                                                    At no point did the rep mention anything about quality of food or anything like that - this is purely a marketing exercise, and I presume with PR like this it will be a bit of a folly.

                                                    I don't think La Bagel Delight across the street has anything to worry about.

                                                    1. re: lambretta76

                                                      it looks to me more like they are trying to develop and field test new product concepts that they can roll out through their existing distribution chain. If you look on their website you will see lots of sandwich "ideas" for example. If they can sell more than those logs of meat and cheese out of their trucks, salads, soups or more complex sandwich components they will make a bunch more money.

                                                      1. re: lambretta76

                                                        I only care about the quality of the products this new store intends to sell. I could care less about whatever Le Bagel across the street feels and in any event, was never impressed with Le Bagel's heroes anyway, which to me are ordinary at best.

                                                        If the new Boar's Head place sells a good and tasty sandwich, I'll be buying it. I know from experience that there is a synergy involved in making a sandwich; that the whole hero is undoubtedly greater than the sum of its parts. I can't tell you how many hundreds and hundreds of store bought hero sandwiches I've had in my lifetime, all made of essentially the same exact ingredients .... and how a few were sublime, most average, and a few dreadful notwithstanding the almost exact identity of components.

                                                        Who cares about concepts? Why? What's the point? What would a concept matter for if the product is outstanding? I don't get this at all.

                                                      2. re: Kitchop

                                                        personally, I dont want to go to a food store that's specifically there to 'study my consumer habits'.....

                                                    2. re: Kitchop

                                                      Maybe 1949 is the year those guys were born.

                                                      1. re: jakeyd

                                                        It will hurt le bagel and everyone else who does business close by they are building a franchaise store its very clear. they are a multibillion dollar corporation whos intention is to go after subway and quiznos and by doing this steamroll all the small guys who helped build and support there product for 100 years

                                                        1. re: vital action

                                                          A multi billion dollar corporation? Are you sure? Whole Foods is a 5.7 billion dollar corporation with 270 stores.

                                                          And Boars Head?

                                    3. So I finally went to F.Martinella yesterday. I usually buy my cold cuts at Garden of Eden (or preferably Fairway if I'm able to make the trip out there!) but yesterday I was shopping at Trader Joe's and decided to stop at F.Martinella on my way home. I ordered .5 lb of turkey and .25 lbs of two different kinds of cheeses.

                                      The cold cuts were fine, and slightly less expensive than Garden of Eden, but the service was PAINFUL. The guy who was helping me could not have moved slower or less efficiently. He packaged all of my cold cuts and then had to unwrap them to weigh and label them. The help at the registers was just as bad, and also completely rude.

                                      I will not return. Has anyone else been?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: JennS

                                        So so sad. Another piece of Brooklyn history is gone. My grandpappy used to bounce me on his knee and tell me about how he used to sip lattes at the old Martinella pushcart while dodging trolleys trying to find wi-fi hotspots..

                                      2. Turn out the lights. This party's over. The Boar's Head place on Court and State is shut down and gone.