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Dec 14, 2008 12:21 AM

waldbaums supermarkets on Long Island

as a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, they had great appetizing counters with lox and deli and cheeses and halvah and salads and lobster salad and great rice pudding and on and on and on. anything like that today??

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  1. I shop at the local Huntington branch of this chain and I can verify that it has lost much of its ethnicity. they do have packaged Nathan's lox( a poor facsimile of the real thing) and cole slaw and potato salad which are better than Fairways but not too much else. The Great American homogenization won out.

    31 Replies
    1. re: budcar

      any other supermarket chains that have the kind of first rate deli/appetizing counter i described??

      1. re: MarkG

        Simple answer: No. Fairway has a good deli, prepared foods, cheese sections (and great produce and low prices), but with 3 locations, it won't qualify as a chain. Same goes for Uncle Giuseppe in Smithtown.

        King Kullen, Pathmark, Stop & Shop, Waldbaums, etc. -- locally, they're at least 15-20 years behind the curve on supermarket evolution. Nothing on the Island remotely compares to a Wegmans.

        1. re: sbp

          Just a side note - The Waldbaums in Douglaston is closing, and Fairway is moving in. Fairway just got permission from the planning board to expand the store. Sounds like it is a done deal.

          1. re: Bigbird

            Wow, that is great news. My mother-in-law lives nearby.. although by the time they are open, I'll be able to shop at the one in New Rochelle on our way to Queens.

            1. re: Bigbird

              I just noticed that the Fairway ads are showing the Douglaston store as coming in 2011. Of course, my mother-in-law is moving from Bayside in April, so I will probably never get to shop there (and Pelham is open, anyway).

            2. re: sbp

              I decided to check on how my used-to-be neighbourhood supermarket was faring. I lived in the LN-Douglaston area for (gasp!) 51 years.....then, (really stupidly), moved to be near my Colorado! (DON"T move to Co -- the highways are like a mini-Californian multiple-track highway coming at all directions, the post-offices are 3 miles apart (!).....and there are NO butcher shops....all meat is either frozen or gassed! (Unbelievable.....and, (sigh!) I'm not near the center of where it all happens any more!) Anway, I was totally shocked to find out, yesterday, that the Waldbaum's my parents and I had gone to all these years, (it moved its location about 10-15 years ago), was closing!!!!! Today, I find out about something called "Fairways". (At first, I thought it was an extention of the Douglaston Golf Course!) SOME old things are good -- and having Waldbaums, (and Stop & Shop, Pathmark, Stop & Shop, etc.), to be "behind the times" gives me, at least, a feeling of stability and reassurance. (The supermarket in Co that I go to -- notice I write Co, nad not CO -- is nice, but not nearly as nice as Waldbaum's and the other "behind the timers". Why is Wegman's( a store I never heard of before), better? Are check-out lines faster and more rushed? Do they use more plastic than paper bags? Are they SO huge you feel you are getting a free gym-class-like excercise, as you try to "shop and not plop"? : ) Give me the relatively smaller stores, (I know Waldbaum's enlarged its store in Douglaston....but it's NOTHING like the triple-football-stadium-size stores we have in Co!) More packaged foods? Less ethnic food selection? Well, some may like it -- but as for me, steer me to the nearest time-machine, so I can go back to the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s.....even the early 2000s.....when things were saner and calmer and nicer! (Am saving up -- maybe I can come back to NY in a few years. Douglaston-- not Manhattan! : )

              1. re: nycisBEST

                Hey, you want to be a fan of crappy supermarkets (ranked dead last in Consumer Reports), be my guest. What distinguishes Waldbaums nowadays is:

                a) a produce section with virtually no produce that doesn't have a peel or skin to prolong it's shelf life. Fresh mushrooms - nope. Snow peas? Snap peas? Green Beans? Nope. They have some pre-bagged, pre cut green beans in anaerobic bags so they stay pseudo-fresh longer (just like the good old days? hardly). Swiss Chard, Kale, other leafy greens? ALWAYS a few wilted, brown speciments. They sell basil - but only in an asceptic plastic container where you get 5 ounces for $4. Ridiculous. Never any local strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.. - those are more perishable than the mutated stuff they truck in from California.
                b) fish counter carrying only "previously frozen" fish. Nothing fresh. And even the previously frozen looks horrible. Dingy colored, drying out, gaping flesh.
                c) 3 less checkout lanes open than is reasonable. Got to keep expenses down.
                d) last time I went for something safe - ice cream - I had to inform customer service that the entire ice cream section (15 feet or so) was filled with containers that were clearly holding melted ice cream. So soft when I picked one up it almost folded in half.
                e) you don't seem to get it; it's WALDBAUMS that now carries everything pre-packaged and nothing fresh; it's WALDBAUMS that has an ethnic food section that consists of La Choy and Goya.

                Why are Wegmans/Fairways better?
                a)Produce is plentiful, in top condition, fresh, and inexpensive.
                b) The cheese section has cheeses from all over the world, made by farmers, not mega-dairies (like in Waldbaums, where you can get Kraft in countless variations), and staffed by people specifically trained to age cheese.
                c) the bakeries carry fresh, real bagels
                d) the deli sections have 4 or 5 types of lox/smoked salmon
                e) you can get 8 varieties of olives, and 4 varieties of pickles, right out of a barrel.
                f) the fish department carries very fresh fish, and a large variety, including several types of salmon, whole fish, etc.. - and they will filet for you.
                g) at Fairway, the meat department always has at least one type of PRIME meat (usually steak) on sale for about 1/2 of what it goes for at a butcher, or around the same price as "choice" grade at Waldbaums
                h) Almost every cash register is staffed; so you go through quicker without being rushed.
                i) Wegmans has entire aisles dedicated to one type of ethnic food. If I want a choice of several San Marzano tomato brands, Fairway and Wegmans are the places to be.

                I find it hard to believe you've ever set foot in Wegmans or Fairway. Maybe you're just against change, period? Well I've got news for you. Waldbaums has changed. It stinks.

                1. re: sbp

                  I love Fairway, and I know that Waldbaums took a big dive some years ago, but your description of the produce section is nothing like the really nice new Waldbaum's in Huntington village. Lots of fresh stuff unpackaged, a fair number of organic selections and the cheese section is great, though may not be in the variety of Fairway, but Fairway's is almost always way past its prime, IME. I go to Fairway more often, but have to be very careful about quality and age of what they sell. The very newly renovated Waldbaums seem to get much better merchandise and variety as well.

                  I want to add here that after A & P took over, the Waldbaum's in my old town and this one pre renovation were disgusting and I would not set foot in either.

                  Sorry about that, NYCisBEST, but most Waldbaum's are just crummy A & Ps now.

                  1. re: mcf

                    You're right, the one in Huntington Village is not run down and crummy, though their produce section is lacking Unfortunately, I live very close to the Greenlawn Waldbaums and it really is a dump.

                    You find Fairway's cheese past it's prime? Never noticed that myself.

                    1. re: sbp

                      Yes, a lot of Fairway cheese is badly past its prime, especially the stuff in the case at the rear end of the store, really, really bad as a rule. Some of the produce, too. You really have to be choosy there.

                      As to produce at Waldbaums, the selection is much better than other Waldbaums; especially in the front of the store, in all the bins and baskets. I just wish they'd segregate organic stuff from conventional, and carry more of it.
                      Fairway, fortunately, has every color of chard, which I love. I live very close to Wild by Nature, but selection and quality are really poor there.

                      1. re: mcf

                        So you're talking about the pre-packaged cheese at the rear of the store where the dairy, eggs, butter is, and not the hand cut stuff in the stand-alone cheese department? I could see that happening.

                        1. re: sbp

                          No, I'm talking about the hand cut stuff that's seen better days; mostly it's in the cheese dept's counter closest to the rear of the store in Plainview. Dairy and eggs are far away on the other side of the store. I'm not talking about the stuff you can pick and choose from an uncut wheel and get sample tastes of by the person behind the counter that hasn't yet been cut off a wheel. But I'm not talking about stuff that's pre-packaged by the manfacturer either.

                  2. re: sbp

                    I just spoke to a supervisor at one of the Waldbaums stores. She gave me the customer service number, which, (and I disguise it a BIT here -- but you can get the real one by calling up any Waldbaum's store and asking for it): 800 -223 -7374 (That's 800 -22FRESH!) Even when Waldbaum's became part of A&P, I still felt at home there. A & P was very kind to let all of its new affiliates keep their original names, (unlike Office Depot, which swallowed up one of my favourite stationers, Viking Office Products.) This "still feeling at home at Waldbaum's, even when it became part of A& P, was quite UNLIKE my experience when the Brooklyn Savings Bank became the Crossland Savings Bank -- Weird -- but, in the same building, with the same furniture and SAME staff -- it felt HOSTILE when it changed to the Crossland Bank.....which also ultimately failed as well.) But I've always felt at home in Waldbaums.
                    Customers and employees CARE about each other! As I mentioned, I went to my neighbourhood, Douglaston Waldbaums' -- in BOTH of it's locations -- for 51 years. Then I very stupidly moved to Denver Co, to be with my sister. (One of THE worst decisions of my life), This was 5 years ago, so I haven't been to a Waldbaum's recently. I cannot believe that everything you say against Waldbaums is true -- but even if only parts of it are true, I can only sincerely hope that Waldbaum's becomes again at LEAST the store I knew and loved in 2005! Waldbaums' was the store my parents shopped in, BEFORE we moved to Queens from Brooklyn! It is THE store I always knew, throughout my entire life, (before moving to Co in 2005, that is). I F anything is wrong, I'm sure Waldbaum's knowledgeable supervisors and officers will change it. Waldbaums' is not only a store -- it is part of SO many people's past and present lives! It is a cherished New York City landmark and proud institution to so many! I, personally, am absolutely sure that, " If Anything Is Wrong, WAKDBAUM's Will Make It Right!" (under the kindly aegis of A&P!)

                    1. re: nycisBEST

                      Nah. In spite of the way you went on and on, Waldbaum's now is still no relation to the previous Waldbaum's incarnation. In has a different orientation. A & P isn't a great supermarket in its own right, so swallowing up another chain just brought Waldbaum's into the fold.

                      "Customers & Employees care about each other"

                      Give me a break.

                      1. re: menton1


                        waldbaums has fallen on hard times. in my area they have closed several stores,and many are in need of renovation. i only use them very occasionaly,like i did last nite to purchase some laundry detergent.

                        btw the loading dock had two trailers from pathmark. so it confirmed what i was told long ago- waldbaums,pathmark and a&p are all the same company,right down to their "americas choice" house brand.

                        the local pathmark is closing at the end of the year. no great loss.

                        pretty sad state of affairs.

                        1. re: menton1

                          To menton1:

                          Well, when my mom and I went shopping at the Douglaston store in 2005, I DID help out other customers, (telling one little old lady she could go to the "10 items or less" line (she had very few items), when she obviously wasn't aware such a line existed, and employees helping my mom & I get items from the higher shelves we couldnt' reach. Etc. Common courtesy between civilized people. And -- wonder of wonder of wonders -- WALDBAUMS NOW DELIVERS FOOD! I remember calling up the main office in Islip, NY, and literally begging them to have home delivery, (like Gristedes did), several times. I even called them during a snow-storm, to make my case even more emphatic. Finally, the lady said they wanted to -- but they couldn't, because of the high cost of insuring the delivery vans. Now -- I'm NOT someone who gives up easily, (I STILL believe there will someday be time-machines, and ways to live to be 200 or more, etc.) -- but when she said they couldn't do home delivery because of the increased insurance cost for the delivery vans, I just gave up, and didn't call the
                          again. (How can you fight against THAT type of statement?) Lo and behold....aboout a year later, they began home delivery! : ) I know it's 99.99% about money -- but it still seems to me that Waldbaums, (and parent company A&P....which has been around as long, or longer than Waldbaums;), really DO care about their customers. I mean,they have
                          to, don't they -- or people will go elsewhere to buy things -- even for
                          delivery. Places like, -- even!

                          1. re: nycisBEST

                            They solved all their problems by using an outside company for deliveries, despite how it appears. Peapod is too. Probably wasn't the store's idea, just some smart business person who came up with a proposal during the gas crisis. Not necessarily because they care about their customers personally as much as the bottom line, which is as it should be when running such a large business.

                            I don't know why you're so amazed that grocery employees should be helpful, if you don't like assisting customers (good and bad) you shouldn't be working in retail in the first place. My Waldbaums is fine, and so is Best Yet, and so is Stop and Shop, and Pathmark...not so sure about King Kullen but that could just be the local one. But they all are equally friendly and helpful, I wouldn't single out Waldbaums above any other. Unless in Colorado it's so much worse than I can imagine?

                        2. re: nycisBEST

                          You're operating on the faulty impression that Waldbaums is still a local family owned business with knowledgeable supervisors and officers. No. There is no management of Waldbaums, per se, because Waldbaums no longer exists as anything other than a store name being slapped onto markets owned by A&P.

                          Just so you know, I have complained, in writing to A&P, specifically about the absence of produce at the Greenlawn branch. I got a form letter back saying essentially "thanks, we appreciate your input."

                          Moreover, A&P is apparently phasing out the too-Jewish for A&P sounding Waldbaums and replacing with something less threatening: "Fresh"

                          I understand your nostalgia for Waldbaums, because it used to be quite good. But those days are gone.

                          1. re: sbp

                            I will be so glad if Shoprite ever opens in Patchogue (supposedly in the old Home Depot according to a local civic association). Pathmark and Waldbaums are just different names for the same old A&P crap, Stop & Shop is so cookie cutter (although IMHO, it is better than A&P), and King Kullen is a joke.

                          2. re: nycisBEST

                            They weren't "very kind to let all of its new affiliates keep their original names". They realized that the chains they were buying had a better reputation than A&P and it would be stupid to get rid of the old familiar name that people like you still love to fawn over being so great. Waldbaums is truly nothing more than an A&P with another name.

                            1. re: MisterBill2

                              Waldbaum's is disgusting. There are several Waldbaum's closer to me than Stop and Shop in Little Neck, but I go out of my way to go to S&S, not that it's much better, because I refuse to shop at W's. I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and local butchers and the green markets.

                              1. re: irishnyc

                                The Shoprites in Plainview are individually owned by the Greenfield Family.
                                They are very well run and their deli and appetizing are better than any of the supermarkets. it appears that people travel to shop there. The staff is usually pretty management is always on the prmises and staff are unioized and well paid. Fairway also in Plainview has decent deli,appetizing and excellent prime meat. Fairway has an extensive collection of fresh fruit that is generally fresh, large selection of breads , a mediocre bakery , prepared food that varies in queality However they do not have enough cashiers and the staff are usually not helpful. My son attends college in upstate New York and shops at Wegman's which ai similar to Fairway.

                                1. re: linsue

                                  Mediocre bakery? They make the best bagels on LI (love the mini bagels), a great baguette, very good rye bread, etc. Plus they sell breads from Eli's, Bread Alone, and other excellent bakeries. With the exception of Whole Foods (who sells Balthazar), I can't think of a supermarket with better bread--there's certainly no bread bakery on LI that makes bread as good as Fairway sells.

                                  On the other hand, you can tell I'm very bread-focused. In truth I have no idea what the cakes and pastries at Fairway are like. Perhaps they are mediocre?

                                  Bread Alone
                                  45 E Market St, Rhinebeck, NY 12572

                                  1. re: emarcus

                                    Agreed, this was a bit out of left field. Fairway is my go to spot for bagels too, and I live close to plenty of stand-alone bagel shops. As for pies, cakes and pastries: Fairway is better than other supermarket chains, but not on the level of Briermere for pies or Fiorello Dolce for cakes, pastries.

                                    The other odd thing is the reference to not enough cashiers. I can almost always find an EMPTY lane, because Fairway seems to put on more cashiers than they need. This is based on years of once a week shopping there. I've never had a problem.

                                    1. re: emarcus

                                      They'd have to improve to become mediocre when it comes to cakes and pastries. I was fooled by their delectable appearances a couple of times and bought tarts and cake for company; the eating didn't measure up to the viewing at all. I'm not a bread eater, but the few tastes I've had of their artisanal breads have been good.

                                      1. re: mcf

                                        I've bought a few of the croissants and turnovers, dry and definitely not made with butter or the like.

                                      2. re: emarcus

                                        Erica, try Best Yet, they get most of their bread from Tom Cat; what a pleasure to have good bread at a reasonable price out here in the boondocks!

                                    2. re: irishnyc

                                      waldbaums is beyond disgusting,at least the one in rockville centre,LI. last sunday i needed some potato chips and ice cream for a bbq.

                                      someone had punched a hole in the bottom of the potato chip bag and left it on the shelf. worse yet the ice cream was allowed to thaw and melt, then re-placed back in the freezer. it had freezer burn and was totally inedible.

                                      I immediately returned both these items for a full refund.I was so disgusted that I have vowed NEVER to patronize that Waldbaums ever again.

                                      feh. Waldbaums-and A&P- you deserve everything thats coming to you-and more.

                          3. re: MarkG

                            What area are you looking for?

                            BTW, I shop at the Waldbaums in my area (Merrick) more out of convenience than anything else. If anything better opened nearby, I'd probably stop. Lately I buy most of my produce at Pat's Farms (in N. Merrick), and assorted other stuff at Stop and Shop or TJ's. I buy my appetizing at Bagel Plaza, never at a grocery store.

                            1. re: amymsmom

                              The appetizing at Bagel Boss is the greatest. And oh the ruggelach.

                          4. re: budcar

                            I bought some of the Nathan's lox and also herring when Waldbaums started carrying it, and couldn't believe there were bones and gristle in it! I did something I never like to do, I returned both for a refund. Most of their other stuff is Blue Ridge at the deli counter. Although the whole smoked fish seems authentic. I mean, Waldbaums is now part of A&P and Pathmark, so you can't expect really authentic. And if they don't have it anymore, I don't know who would.

                          5. ShopRite, a cooperative of independently-owned supermarkets, has a couple of locations that are most like the "appetizing" counters from back when Waldbaum's was independent of A&P. Specifically, the Greenfield ShopRite stores in Plainview have great homemade rice pudding, good store-roasted turkey breast, a number of prepared items you don't find in a "vanilla" supermarket deli (kasha varnishkas, anyone?), etc. The deli in the Hauppague (sp?) location where 347 meets 111 doesn't have the same Jewish vibe, but is also good.

                            1. walbaums is nothing like it was in the 70's or 80's. I remember when it was an independent chain -- was a little more expensive but did have a great deli and more which was important to my jewish mother. It actually cater to the jewish clientele. it is now a supermarket like them all. Fairway is still great but not close to me -- sad but true.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: sugakc69

                                Yes, sadly Waldbaums is now nothing more than an A&P clone. I remember when they used to carry kosher deli meats (fresh sliced) and the smoked fish the poster asked about. No more.

                                1. re: MisterBill2

                                  I agree with mr. bill

                                  Waldbaums is a sad sliver of what it used to be. They also carry the same "americas choice" brand that i see in Pathmark,which to me is one step above western beef.

                                  The only really acceptable to good deli is the one at stop and shop. but for real lox,etc only an appetizing or bagel store will do.

                                  1. re: MisterBill2

                                    The Waldbaums in Albertson still carries kosher deli meats from Hebrew National and Empire, but I wouldn't buy their lox. If you are not kosher, they happen to make great chopped liver IMHO. This store caters more to a Jewish clientele that it brings in from Roslyn, so they even have packaged Empire chickens. They also have a fantastic selection of kosher for Passover foods.

                                    1. re: robinsilver

                                      That is interesting about the store in Albertson. I actually had a $10 coupon for meat that I had to use recently (result of buying some promotional stuff). I was trying to find a WB or A&P with a decent kosher meat/poultry selection but could not find one. I ended up take a free non-kosher turkey and donating it to the local Salvation Army.

                                2. Go to Fairway in Plainview. Great deli, amazing produce, and great prices!

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: ahotdoughnut

                                    OK two years later....I hit Fairway in Plainview once or twice a year as it's a trek for me. I read on another thread that their prices have been skyrocketing but I pooh poohed. Today I had a chance to stop by. They were out of Jamacian Blue Mountain Coffee which is usually my biggest purchase at $45/lb, and just found out I have high cholesterol so bought very little cheese, my other baddie. I got some spices and extracts, one small container of lox scraps rather than the hand cut I usually get, 4 containers of Lavalle tomato products, 3 jars of honey and 3 each of asst oils and vinegars. Imagine my surprise when the bill came to $240. There might have been a few more things I'm or two produce items... but the bottom of my cart wasn't even covered. I was careful not to buy anything I could get anywhere else but it didn't matter. I can't compare because these are hard to find items, but wow! I think I'm cutting back to once a year from now on. Maybe a birthday present to myself or something.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      Speaking of spices and extracts, since you're shlepping to Plain\view anyway, have you stopped by Huntington Station for Penzeys?

                                      I just love the place:

                                      1. re: Scott_R

                                        I got lost on Manetto Hill Road and actually ended up in Huntington Station, too bad I didn't know. Many years ago when I lived there, I used to love Foods of All Nations in the mall, I think it was the first "gourmet" shop I knew. Well I think I'm all spiced up for now, but next time.....

                                        1. re: coll

                                          Please explain how you ended up in Huntington Station, given that Manetto Hill Road is a north-south road and there is no way to get to Huntington from there (it ends at Woodbury Road). I actually used to live a few blocks from Manetto Hill Road.

                                          1. re: MisterBill2

                                            OK I always go north on Manetto Hill Rd, then make a right at the end. Then there is usually a big 495 sign to turn into an industrial park and you go in there and there is an exit onto LIE. Sunnyside Blvd or Motor Parkway I don't know. Guess the sign fell down in the storm. I knew pretty quickly that I had passed the street and before I knew it I was at 25, so I said to myself, what the heck, let's see what going on in the old 'hood, and made another right. As long as I'm going east I'm good. I had my GPS since I had just been to Queens but was too lazy to use it at that point. I wasn't lost or anything, and I know my way around the area. Just cruising on a Friday afternoon, after attending a wake for a dear friend, no hurry.

                                          2. re: coll

                                            If that's the Foods of All Nations at the Walt Whitman Mall, I spent a summer off from college working there, in 1984. It was a fun place to work, and that was the first time I tasted feta cheese fresh from the big wooden barrel it came in.

                                            1. re: jdub1371

                                              At the time, Foods of All Nations had everything I had heard of but could never find. I hate to say, but the orange blossom water I still use has a price tag with their name on it.....and they were located in the mall but you entered from outside, which was a bonus to me.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            I love love love the fairway special balsamic vinegar $20 / liter.

                                            1. re: phantomdoc

                                              I already had a quart of balsamic vinegar BIL gave me for Christmas from Williams Sonoma, for some reason, and also Roland balsamic fig glaze: what I got was a French fig balsamic (I just love figs) and a vermouth vinegar from Italy. Next time I will look for the Fairway brand. Yes there will be a next time.

                                              1. re: coll

                                                A few years ago Lexus offered a $100 gift cert to Dean and Deluca for taking a test drive. Me and Mrs. Doc did this and so we had $200 to blow at D&D. I got an 8.5 oz of the D&D balsamic for $25 (now $48). The fairway $20/liter is every bit as good. We even enjoy it sometimes as an after dinner digestif, in a cordial glass.

                                                1. re: phantomdoc

                                                  By the time I get back to Fairway, I should be low on balsamic vinegar, so will start a list! Gee I wish they'd open one out here on the East End as I always hear rumored. But I guess it's just too seasonal, Citarella's just closed half their shops out here this winter.

                                        2. I agree with the above comments -- I avoid Waldbaum's except when absolutely necessary. I get my lox from Fresh Direct, although if I lived near Fairway I would go there in a heartbeat for the overall quality of their perishable foods. For herring and other appetizing, I go to local bagel places.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: LloydG

                                            Funny you should mention perishable foods. The Waldbaums by me barely stocks anything that could qualify. Almost no fresh greens -- and what there is is pre-packaged shrink-wrapped. Who wants to buy green beans in a pack? The produce section is aisle after aisle of foods with thick skins or peels: apples, bananas, winter squash, oranges.