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Why is Russo's so crazy?

OK, this is a first for me - dropped by Russo's today after lunch at Taqueria El Amigo (that place is INCREDIBLE, by the way - the tacos de cabeza are to die for). Been going to Russo's for years and it's always busy, but nothing like today -- absolutely PACKED, new parking lot opened on the side, even the parking lot in back was completely full -- lines running halfway to the back of the store, impossible to get around.

Any idea why this place is suddenly so insane? Did they get a writeup somewhere?

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  1. Suddenly? That sounds like a typical early weekend afternoon at Russo's to me! I always try to time my weekend Russo's visits to either early morning or mid-afternoon -- it's a zoo from about 11 to 2, invariably.

    My suspicion is that everyone needs to stock up after the holidays. We could stand to go ourselves, actually, but I'm feeling too lazy to make the trek, especially after this dispatch.

    1. That is the normal weekend, especially afternoon on Saturday.

      1. Because we keep talking about it.....

        1. If possible, go early or late on the weekends..... or during the week.

          1. Don't complain - the reason it is so popular is that just about all the stuff they carry is always fresh due to the quick turnover, and that's due to the crowds, so it's like a chicken vs. egg thing. Btw, their panini lunch sandwiches are great, if you're there at lunchtime take advantage.

            1. Agreed, sounds like a normal weekend. I wish they would expand (I have daydreams about them adding a butcher counter and seafood area) or at least trim down some of their departments - the potted plants and cut flower area comes to mind. I know some people love the flowers, but I'd rather have more food or aisle space.

              Luckily the people working the registers are all very competent and get the lines moving very quickly.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DoubleMan

                Russo's in its present form is already about double the size it used to be! I don't think they could expand any further.

                Personally, I love the cut flowers: I usually have a bud vase here on my desk with a couple of lilies or Gerber daisies from Russo's.

              2. Another thing that contributes to the crowding is that the dry goods are stocked on shelves below the produce, so you have to lean over to find what you want, and a person leaning over takes up twice as much space as a person standing up! I find that very awkward. Bad design.

                1. I wish they would get double-tiered shopping carts like the Alewife Whole Foods. I think that would help considerably. It is frustrating trying to navigate the aisles, but the lines move pretty quickly once you managed to snag your groceries.

                  1. This is Russo's on the weekend - I have the advantage of being a stay-at-home mother, so I can time my visits for early a.m. on weekdays to avoid some of this. I have to say, though, that Russo's in its current state makes me very stressed and I'm at the point where I don't go there nearly as often as I used to. We live closeby and I love it, but it's too stressful to go there regularly - esp. since I'm not able to do a full shop there . . . .

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gansu girl

                      The important thing about not letting Russo's get to you is going in there with a plan. Once you've been in there a few times and have a fairly good sense of where things are, it's possible to do a pretty surgical strike. For example, if you're trying to get to the end of the store where the Asian veggies are, go down the front aisle (along the apples and nuts) rather than down the middle or rear aisle. It's always less crowded and you avoid that terminal bottleneck in front of the dairy case. Also: I don't know why, but for some reason the two cashiers who are second and third from the furthest end (near the potted plants) almost never have more than one or two customers in their lines, even when the rest of the cashiers have lines heading back to cut flowers and baked goods.

                      By this point, I can get into Russo's, do all my fruit, veg, dairy/egg, cheese, cured meat and cut flower shopping, *and* grab a sandwich from the deli counter (I love the Smokestack, myself) and be out of the store in 15-20 minutes, and that's on a weekend. Go to the Stop and Shop down the block to mop up and I'm done for the week in under an hour.

                    2. It could also be due to the recent "Stuff at Night" article on where the chef's in Boston shop. Pretty much each one surveyed stated that they do all their produce shopping/ordering at Russo's.

                      1. This sounds worse than normal. I love Russo's and have been going there regularly since before the big expansion. However, the store layout seems to have been designed by a psychopath. There is very little rhyme or reason to what is placed where, no thought given to the logical flow of customers. The semi-outside area which contains some of the staple produce (like potatoes), but occurs before you get your shopping basket, is down right bizarre. The Kendall Square Au Bon Pain, which at noon is indistinguishable from the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange during a market panic, is the only establishment which can rival this level of disregard for human factors. That said, once you've memorized where everything is, it's kind of fun to stride purposefully among the bewildered hordes.