HOME > Chowhound > Southern New England >

Discussion

Stew Leonard's vs. Fairway

Since Fairway opened in Paramus, it has become my regular grocery store. The place does have some flaws, but, to me, it is still the greatest food store in Northern NJ.

I have wanted to go to Stew Leonard's for a long time, and I'm planning to make the trip to the store in Yonkers some time this week.

I'm curious as to which store people familiar with both think is better. What I want to know specifically:

How do Stew's prepared foods stack up to Fairway's? Comparable quality and price, or not?

Does Stew's have fresh mozzarella available? Is it better than Fairway's?

How's Stew's bakery department? Are they more expensive than Fairway? Do they bake their goods with REAL dairy products (cream, butter, etc.). Most of Fairway's non-sale baked goods are a little expensive, but they are made with quality ingredients.

How are Stew's prices and quality overall compared to Fairway? Lower, higher, or about the same?

I'm planning to go early in the morning (8AM - 9AM). Will it still be insanely busy? Also, do they put hot foods out early in the morning, or later in the day like Fairway?

Thanks for any info. I'm looking forward to this!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. News to me - Fairway is owned by Sterling Investment Partners, Westport, CT.
    The Stamford store will be 80,000 sq ft.
    And, they donated food, enough for 60 - 80 famalies to the Food Bank of Lower FFld County in Stamford

    1. Fairways is a better store. I live 20 minutes from the Harlem branch and 7 minutes from Stews, so I go to stews more often. if they were both the same distance, I would only go to fairways. Stews is generally cheaper, and on many things, like fish, can be a much better value; but other times you simply get what you pay for. I would not make Stews a destination drive from NJ.

      1. Not in the same league.

        Stews is not a classic supermarket, stocking only 2,000 different items vs. 30,000 for Fairway. Fairway is gourmet driven, a foodie emporium. Stews is family centric, more of a whimsical shopping experience, replete with animatronics and petting farm. e,g, you probably won't find Plugra or creme fraiche at Stews, even though its strength is Dairy store. I've seen chefs in their clogs doing their early morning shopping in the B'way Fairway. . There's not enuf volume in the hard to find top quality items at Stews -- that's not their MO. Fairway produce is far fresher and lots cheaper and their meat always top quality and competitively priced, displayed in a meat locker. You can get Prime, aged steak at FW, only choice at Stews, whose meats are inconsistent. FW offers seafood you can trust. Though both suffer jammed ailes, at Fairway it's not one way in one way out.

        Shoppers from Yonkers should be driving to Paramus, not the reverse. Only if you have a young family would the trip over the Hudson and those tolls be worth it.

        12 Replies
        1. re: louuuuu

          Going on what I've heard for a VERY long time from a shopper at Fairway in Harlem, Fairway and Stew's are light years away in quality and product and service.

          Also, Fairway doesn't have the very annoying rat maze.

          I can't wait for Fairway in Pelham to open.

          Most grocery stores and supermarkets in Westchester, including Stew's, will be history.

          Competition is a wonderful thing.

          1. re: louuuuu

            I have been to both, but only once for Stew's, twice for Fairway.
            Quality aside, the shopping experience at Stew's is oddly Hitchcockian: he didn't say that shoppers are cattle, he said that they should be treated like cattle. I resent just a little bit being herded into line through shopping stations, and out the door.
            I'll return to Fairway Stamford, the cheese and meat lineup was far too impressive not to, and they've added booze, very enticing.
            But it is very nearly TOO big, and a trek through the aisles is positively aerobic.
            Surprised at the consensus that it's considerably cheaper than Stew's. It may be so.
            How does it stack up against Whole Foods in pricing?

            1. re: dinerfan

              I hate Stew's other than milk...OK I said it and i have been consistent, emperor's new clothes stuff. Fairway's produce and meats are far superior.

              Fairway is the real deal but you need to view it as two separate stores (at least i do to keep my brain happy). There is store #1 "The U". It is the outside starting at produce to cheese, deli, make a right at fish, past meat to bagels, make anohter right up the milk aisle. Store #2 is the insides. All the regular staples and organics. I buy 90% from store #1 and only 1 or 2 items in store #2.

              #1 is competitively priced and you get great value, #2 can be hit or miss on value.

              Then you arrive at the cashiers and it is just a bad process. They do NOT use the SKUs on the fruits so the cashiers need to first recognize the fruit and then know the Fairway code. So you show up at the cashier with oranges with the sticky label of 3106, yet the number the cashier places in the register is 459. I am contacting corporate on this lunacy. Makes the last touch point extremely unpleasant and puts tremendous pressure on the cashier. Makes no sense.

              Compared to WF, I would place it as a 30% discount. And this week organic red peppers wer $2.99/lb, that has to be half off of WF.

              1. re: jfood

                Thanks for the segmentation advice, it makes good sense to walk the perimeter and avoid the staples. And thanks for the relative pricing info.

                1. re: dinerfan

                  There is some disagreement on the price diff...see below. I may do a quick compare this weekend with my normal buys at FW. If the diff is 10% vs the 30% i think, it may be worth the double stop since i drive right by WF on the way to FW.

                  1. re: jfood

                    This is anecdotal, but I have never been able to afford a week's worth of groceries at WF I do major shopping now at FW, though...

                    1. re: jfood

                      Thanks for that, and for the tip on Fairway perimeter shopping!

                2. re: dinerfan

                  FW is less expensive than WF. That said, a friend from the city came up to shop and compare Stamford to the B'way Fairway, and while she marveled at the wide aisles and abundant space, she felt the prices were higher than the city. That's been my feeling, too. The prices are competitive best with other Lower Fairfield stores, but incredible bargains are few. Service and convenience outstanding.

                  1. re: louuuuu

                    I don't think the pricing difference between Stamford Fairways and Darien/Norwalk WFs is 30%. I would venture on average It's less than 10% and in many cases with the WF everyday 360 brand no difference at all. And I still give the nod to WF in terms of quality across the board. No question.

                    1. re: Scotty100

                      Consistency of quality (and ambience) to WF. Variety, value, and specialty areas such as oils, coffee, smoked fish, cheeses goe to FW. And their Kobe CB sandwich on rye with a half sour is the best in Ct, albeit sliced too thick)

                      That said, I don't think the pricing is as agressive or the quality as consistent as FW on Broadway or Harlem. And at times the Big Box feel can be offputting... this place is an airport hanger.

                      FW and WF have upped the ante in southern FFC. Nothing like competition to smack Stew's rear end.

                      1. re: louuuuu

                        Lou, I prefer the higher quality variety of everything you listed at WF. FW has the quantity for sure but not the quality.

                        Agree Stews is not even in the discussion compared to these 2. I went to that place once and I'll never get those 15 minutes back ever...still annoyed.

                    2. re: louuuuu

                      Damn Fairfield County. Why am I here?

                3. Stew's can be fun for the kids and, BTW you can pick up some basic groceries. Fairway is a full market.

                  1. In my opinion, there is NO comparison.

                    Fairway beats Stew Leonards on every front (unless you like their hot fried foods and ribs).
                    *Less expensive
                    *Better and much more variety of selections
                    *Better Quality produce, meats and seafood (Fairway started on the UWS as a produce store)
                    *Better quality prepared foods
                    *Did I say LESS EXPENSIVE? (there is NO comparison)

                    If you are going for a kids payground, stew leonards can be fun. If you are going to buy food, Fairway is a hundred times better

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: frequentdiner

                      Agreed - no contest.

                      The ONLY thing that might be better at Stews is their fresh mozzarella. I cannot wait until Fairway opens in Stamford.

                      Much better selection at Fairway - better prices on most everything - especially produce.

                      1. re: gunksny

                        As a former New Yorker and a long time Stew's shopper, allow me to state for the record that although the addition of Fairway is likely a good development particularly for the Stamfordite, it is my least favorite of the premium New York stores.

                        I lived for years within strolling distance of the Vinegar Factory which truly is the best of the best for everything. Down from there in order of value/price, I like Agata Y Valentina a whole lot, as well as Citerella which is especially strong for fish but is surprisingly good in other catagories as well. Down from there, somewhere near Zabars both quality-wise and location-wise:( is Fairway.

                        Fairway does not sell the greatest lettuce, for example, in NYC. That distinction goes to Vinegar Factory, hands down.

                        For beef I was never thrilled with Fairway NYC. Lox, novi, bagels and bialy's, yes, those are very nice at Fairway.

                        In conclusion, and in fairness to Stews, although even that concept brings a wry smile to my face, Stew can sometimes b e very very good on beef when it's the black angus and when it's on sale. His milk and cream are also tremendous.

                        Other than that, I'd rather eat out:)

                        1. re: shark_attack

                          I've gotten some of the best Porterhouse steak in my life at Fairway. Also in fairness to Stews, I've never been there, and after reading the reviews, have no desire to do so, nothing speaks to me. Fairway on the other hand, I would drive to the ends of the earth to spend a few hours shopping there (and I just about have to). I don't buy all that much produce there, since it's just a once or twice a year thing, so can't comment on that.

                          1. re: shark_attack

                            As much as I love Citarella for meat and fish--I have bought gorgeous stuff from Fairway in both departments. The fruit and veg are no comparison to Fairway at Citarella or at Zabar's. They pale in comparison. The cheese counter? Nobody can touch Fairway. The olive oil? Fairway. It's hell on a holiday or before a storm (but for a reason)--it's the best all around market nyc has to offer. fayefood.com

                            1. re: fayehess

                              Their Sicilan olive oil is so good...but see for yourself and taste them all, and vinegars too.

                              1. re: coll

                                I loooooooove the La Macchia olive oil. It makes my heart beat just thinking about it. fayefood.com

                          2. re: gunksny

                            Another vote for Fairway over SL....

                        2. Jfoos can not compare SL to F since he has never been to F, but he can compare SL to nothing.
                          Two years ago jfood told mrs jfood that if he utters the words "I am going to stews for (insert anything other than propane or milk], then kick him."

                          So many other better places to buy stuff and without any of the costco-like PIAs.

                          SL is good for milk and some other dairy products plus a propane refill for the barbee.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: jfood

                            J-two years ago, Bagelman told the new Mrs. Bagelman, that if she insisted on shopping at Stew's she would become the ex-Mrs. Bagelman.

                            Besides hating the maze,and high prices, I detest the fact that you must but the 2 for to get the sale price.

                            BUT most important, I have a long memory. I shall never put one cent into the pockets of the Leonard family who rippped out CT consumers and the state of taxes collected from shoppers. Short weights and stolen dollars. Stew Sr went to prison for it. I say the heck with the entire Leonard family, the bagelman family shops elsewhere, daughter 2 was really upset, because she loves Stew's fresh popped rice cakes, BUT Poricelli's put in the same machine and I'm happy to support them.

                            I'd rather buy my milk at a gas station than Stew's.

                            BTW>>>I like Fairway

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              hey B.

                              Jfood can find all sorts of references to tax evasion but none on short weights from SL. did he also short weight in additrion to having two sets of books?

                              TIA

                              1. re: jfood

                                Yes, a certain percentage of scales at the registers were calibrated to short weight about 1 oz to the pound. They were electronically controlled from the office and could be adjusted at will.
                                The conviction was just on the theft of tax dollars, I believe a deal was cut.

                                BUT, I won't reward the Leonard family for stealing my tax revenue by shopping with them.

                                I was also led to believe that Sr. took the fall for Jr who runs the business now.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  Grocery stores have been fleecing customers for hundreds of years. Butchers have been putting their thumbs on scales for hundreds of years. Where there is money to be made, there is theft.

                                  Why fault Stew Sr. for fleecing and shorting the customer with more technologically advanced methods? Loyalty to the customer from stores in the business of making money is non-existent.

                                  If I liked his stores, which I don't, I would have no problem with continuing to shop there. That said, I still like the idea of Fairway cleaning his (and every other supermarket in Westchester) clock.

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    thanks buddy. did not know about the short weights. jfood stopped buying from sl years ago (except for propane and an occassional milk). his local store hires kids, runs a tight ship and also hires the disabled as baggers and is employee owned. plus the food is fantastic.

                                    jfood is recovering from pounds of novey, sable, bagels and the best creamed herring in FL a couple of weeks ago. Man that stuff is needed up here.

                                    happy holidays to you and the mini-bagels

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      I'll be in So Fla after the 1st and get my fix then, but, I'm old school, Belly, not novey...........

                                      Hello Flakowitz, I'm coming

                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                        yup flakowitz in boynton, jfood misses it already.

                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                      I agree 100% w/Bagelman. I haven't been to SL's since his arrest(I believe it was around1992). His ripoff was a long term operation He had plenty of time to consider the path he was taking. To this day I can't understand why the sheeple shop there when there are many better choices.

                                    3. re: jfood

                                      Here's an old, fairly even-handed story on it, if you're interested -
                                      http://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/19/nyr...

                                      1. re: harrie

                                        Thanks Harrie, that is exactkly what jfood was looking for.

                                        Jfood guesses that Guiness needs to place an asterisk next tpo Stew's name in their book.

                                    4. re: bagelman01

                                      Fairway sells the popped rice cakes, at least the one in Plainview, LI does.

                                  2. Another vote for fairway and against stews. I hate stews. Fairway in Harlem is a 20 minute drive for me and stews is around five, but I go to Fairway on a regular basis since the grocery stores here in westchester are terrible. I do go to stews liquor store because the prices can be very good and they are the only store around that carries Rittenhouse rye. But I try to do most of my shopping at locally owned liquor stores whenever possible.

                                    1. I've seen Fairway market morph from a Greenwich Village gourmet grocer to a chain. They're still great. It's nice to hear they're expanding.

                                      Stew Leonard's is the tourist trap of supermarkets -- and it's not really a full-service supermarket.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: shaogo

                                        Fairway was never in Greenwhich Village,...I suppose you are thinking of Balducci's. Fairway's original store is on 74th & Broadway. Several years ago it increased in size from the original store (they took over the D'Agostino's next door), but it is still the original location.

                                        1. re: valerie

                                          Eeek!

                                          I was thinking of the Jefferson Market on 6th Avenue. I've been confusing Jefferson and Fairway for years.

                                          Now that I've done my research, I've found that I was out of Manhattan years before Fairway became a major gourmet player. And Jefferson's been closed, bought, and re-wrought, perhaps a couple of times.

                                      2. I agree that SL is not in the same league as Fairway. I can't wait for Fairways to open in Douglaston! The only thing I like better in SL its its fresh mozarella cheese. I shop at the Fairways in Plainview and the fresh mozarella cheese is just not good (the last time I tried it it was very hard).

                                        1. IMO, there is no comparison between Fairway and Stew's. Stew's is very dumbed down and never seems to have anything other than what I would consider basics. As far as Stew's mozzarella goes, it is just OK. If I really want a mozzarella taste sensation, it is worth the drive to Arthur Avenue to buy fresh mozzarella there. When you slice it, it oozes milk and is incomparable.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            I would not drive to Stew Leonards for Mozzarella but that was the only thing I could think of better. I have not gone to Stews sinc eI have found Fairways!

                                          2. Ever the contrarian, let me offer one thing Stews has above anyone else: milk, butter and cream. I realize I'm in the 1% of the population on this need, but since my family goes through ~6-7 gallons of milk a week, 2-3 pounds of butter and 1/2 gallon of cream a week, it's important. And while I wish I could just own a cow (trust me... I've contemplated, but sadly my condo doesn't allow large bovine) Stews beats every other place for the cost of it's dairy considering the quality. Cream there is never ultrapastuerized and has a lofty 42% butterfat content (I called them and asked at one point and found out that the quart containers are fattier than the pint containers (42% v. 36%) as they target them to restaurants). And the butter is wonderfully fresh, sweet and far superior to American supermarket butter.

                                            So while it's admittedly been a while since I've been to Fairway, they don't beat Stews on the standard dairy. (Oddly, stews kind of sucks on the cheese front, mozzarella aside). For most everything else (produce, meats, fish) I find Stews a little better than your average supermarket, but not as good as high-end gourmet stores.

                                            But again, for my hugely dependent dairy house, not even the best high-end gourmet stores beat Stews (quality or price) for the milk-cream-butter standards.

                                            (and, btw, they've been offering cage-free organic eggs lately for $1.99 a dozen, and their naked chicken (organic, cage free) for $1.69 a pound. Both great bargains, if they last.)

                                            Also, louuuuu, they do offer Craime Fraiche now... started about a year ago. Not their own brand... but can't remember which off hand.

                                            All that said, I'm totally stoked (my californian is coming out) about Fairway coming. Can't wait. Which kind of makes me amused (bemused?) at all of the odd emotional Stews v. Fairway comparisons. Glad we have both. More choice!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: adamclyde

                                              Yes, Adam, I agree that Stew deserves some credit -- and his basic dairy quality and value, particularly for big families, can't be matched. The store as I posted earlier is family centric. Cheater aside, credit is also due Stew as a master marketer. The "rat maze" is literally a laboratory for the psychology of selling. That whole yellow brick road without windows and few exits disorients shoppers so they literally are not in Kansas anymore, but lost in SL Wonderland. And notice that when you first land down the rabbit hole, your faith in Stew is renewed with the Moses like stone tablet that consecrates you will always be right in StewWord. Next all your glands are immediately stimulated by the aroma of fresh baked goods. The Mad Hatter wants to make you hungry right away, cause a hungry shopper buys more. And those samples ... they also whet the appetite, that's why they call them "appetizers" Not only to make you hungry for the product, but for all the goods in the store. Even the restrooms beckon you around the first corner, to relieve your mind (and lower body parts) so nothing will distract from the shopping experience. Soon after, the dairy with all its bargains reinforces the buying reflex. And the faux hand lettered sale signs give a "just marked down" homey look to the shelves and counters. Unlike a real supermarket with a full range of items -- Stew's low inventory eliminates a myriad of brand decisions..the shelves from top to bottom are filled with the fewest choices possible, increasing margin while reducing decisions -- and gridlock. Keep moving, keep buying. I wouldn't be suprised if there are cameras hidden in the rafters, and white-coated scientists of sales glued to monitors while tracking and quantifying traffic patterns and buying behavior. Common practice in lots of stores.

                                              And certainly not past the tricks of the trade mind of Stew Leonard. Yep, let's see what he's got up his sleeve when the wizards behind FW in Stamford and also WF in Darien come along next year (Ya gotta love capitalism!!!)

                                              1. re: louuuuu

                                                Good post, louuuuuu. Stew has his place. So do the grocery stores which are being eviscerated and the supermarkets which don't know their days are numbered.

                                                That said, there are choices out there now, and as I noted earlier, competition is a wonderful thing.

                                                I can't wait until Fairway opens its doors in Pelham.

                                                1. re: louuuuu

                                                  yeah, key on the point about basic dairy, in my mind, really is quality. Otherwise I'd got to Costco for dairy if it were just for pure value. But Stew's milk is just so, so, so much better tasting... Costco milk tastes like crap.

                                                  And yes, he's definitely a good marketer. The fact that I can shop for 45 minutes with four (almost five) kids and they are happy is a testament. That and the fact that when my family from California comes by, their one absolute stop is Stews. Go figure.

                                                2. re: adamclyde

                                                  But. Does SL offer grass-fed milk? Fairway's in house brand is...

                                                3. I hate Stews and love Fairway. I happily pay the toll and drive an extra 15 minutes each way to shop at Fairway (when Stews is 5 minutes from home). As has been said, the only thing that Stews has going for it is the milk. Not only is it a good price - but it still comes in cardboard containers. Those plastic jugs are horrible - they ruin the taste of the milk and cause it to spoil quicker. Are you listening Fairway? (and every other supermarket in the NY metro area)

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: demifast

                                                    You can't compare Stew Leonards to Fairway. They are massively apart in product offerings and target markets etc. I have been in SL once and will never venture back, but that's just me.

                                                    Fairway vs. Whole Foods vs. Balduccis is the battleground for this particular fight. I haven't been to Fairway since i lived in the UWS but from memory I was never blown away. Citarella's meat and fish were better. And I prefer WF and Balduccis for all round produce, dairy, organic foods, unusual beers etc etc etc. For the record, Zabars never did it for me either. In fact, I found both Fairway and Zabars to be kinda "dingy" and in need of an update, both produce and layout. But maybe the new Fairway will be better...

                                                    1. re: Scotty100

                                                      Fairway vs. Stews is like apples vs. oranges...Living in Riverdale we have NO grocery options, so we are left with Stew's, Fairway and Fresh Direct (which I love by the way but that's another post for another day)...The advantage to Stews is their dairy, and chicken stock or olive oil when it's on sale if you don't have a BJ's membership...the prepared foods can also be good if you get to them early enough and there is a very large selection of prepared foods generally less expensive than the prepared foods at Fairway. Stew's has the best and freshest dairy of all however Stews is also over priced, has terrible quality for herbs ($2.49 for wilted parsley is unacceptable)...and a really tired and small selection of produce (you will not get any poblano peppers, yellow beets, or oyster mushrooms there...you can't even get kale or swiss chard!!!!)...they also don't have whole fish very often. Stews in Yonkers caters to a "suburban mom with bratty kids" not a foodie...and if you want general "grocery" items forget it, no choice and sometimes no selection, it's not a "supermarket"...however I will say that Stews sometimes has fresher fish filet than Fairway (in Harlem as that is the only one I go to)...and not having fresh fish is a HUGE demerit for me...but the selection of fish (actually the selection of everything) in Fairway in Harlem is way better than Stews. I will also say that I wasn't impressed with the Fairway in Paramus the one time I went...it seemed like a slightly more glorified/gourmet Stop and Shop and didn't begin to compare to the "foodie offerings" and "ethnic" items found at the one in Harlem. If you have a receipe for anything that requires an "exotic" ingredient you can pretty much rest assured they have it in the Fairway in Harlem so if you are really into cooking and experimenting (and I am) Fairway runs circles around Stews...It's worth going to the Stews in Norwalk once for the "experience" I guess, but don't expect to do your weekly grocery shopping there...I only go because I live close to Stews, and sometimes they have good weekly specials.

                                                      1. re: gremlin608

                                                        And, this may not matter to most, but Fairway has a great selection of kosher meats and kosher deli meats - Stews used to have a few overpriced kosher chickens and now they don't even carry that. Unless they're having a sale on Tropicana or I need milk - I never go to Stews.

                                                        And how annoying is their latest commercial with the mooing cow? I have to change the radio station every time I hear it.

                                                  2. Wow. This thread really inspired some passionate comments! Not much love for Stew's on this board. Well, I made the trek today (praying the whole span of the Tappan Zee that I wasn't going to fall into the Hudson), and you know what?

                                                    I really liked the place!

                                                    Well, mostly. The parking lot has to be one of the most insanely ludicrous and dangerous lots I've ever seen. Cars zagging every which way with nowhere to go, because there appears to be only one way out of the lot. It wasn't awful when I got there, but it was complete gridlock upon leaving. I know, Christmas Eve and all, but still, it was ridiculous.

                                                    As for the store itself, I really enjoyed it. They had some really cool things there: fresh apple cider donuts fried in the store, the fresh potato chips, breads warm out of the oven, and of course, their milk and butter. I also got some of their iced tea. It's good, but Turkey Hill has nothing to worry about.

                                                    The hot buffet had a lot more variety than Fairway, and at $4.99 a pound, slightly cheaper than Fairway ($5.99 per pound there). The fried chicken looked great, so I got a little of that too, but I haven't eaten it yet. Fairway's buffet items seem to be of a little better quality, but not by a landslide.

                                                    Fairway's bakery is better and cheaper. Some of Stew's sweet items were "fake": no butter or dairy products, just non-dairy margarine and/or oil. Most of Fairway's sweet baked goods are made with dairy products.

                                                    I was impressed with Stew's fresh soups too. More variety than Fairway, and a lot cheaper. Most were 2 for $10 for a quart. Some of Fairway's soups are $7.99 for the same quart.

                                                    In meats, I got some boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.69 a pound. They were nice, plump and fresh, and looked a little better than the ones I usually get at Fairway.

                                                    The cheese department looked very nice, but didn't seem to have as many high-end wacky cheeses as Fairway. I got some plain old bacon horseradish cheddar.

                                                    Produce looked OK, but Fairway's produce section blows Stew's out of the water. Much larger variety and better prices.

                                                    I got some fancy stuff too, including a bottle of honeydew (yes, honeydew) juice. It's weird, but really good, and something I haven't seen before.

                                                    The kitsch farm theme throughout the store was also cool. And I actually appreciated the maze, as it kept me on track and from getting lost! Besides, Fairway is a bit mazelike too. (Not like Stew's though.)

                                                    The crowd seemed quite a bit like the Paramus Fairway crowd: racially and ethnically diverse, mostly middle to upper-middle class. The accents and attitude are a bit stronger in Yonkers though. ;) And there were plenty of people stopping right in the middle of the maze, blocking your way for no reason at all, just like in Jersey (I've seen some comments on different boards saying that this is more of a Jersey burb problem. Apparently it isn't.)

                                                    OK, put a gun to my head, and I'll still take Fairway over Stew's (if they were equally easy to get to for me). Overall, they are cheaper, and they have better deli, bakery, produce, and cheese departments. I do think I'd give a slight edge to Stew's in the prepared foods departments though.

                                                    So, $250 + tolls later, I 'm broke, but I had a great time and I would definitely return to Stew's occasionally. Of course, I got my free ice cream for spending over $100, and it was great and a nice bonus!

                                                    I would be very happy to have a Stew's in NJ.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: zhelder

                                                      Thanks for the great side-by-side comparison. Particularly one without the strange emotional attachments to the conversation.

                                                      Having both in close proximity is good for everyone.

                                                      1. re: zhelder

                                                        Great write-up, thanks for taking the time to do this!

                                                        As you saw, despite the complaints from people about the "maze," it's really just one long very wide aisle. Stew's is set up to have you go through the whole store; if you just want to pick up a couple things, it's sort of silly to go to Stew's. Plus, frankly, if you go not at peak time, you can easily get through the whole place quickly and efficiently. It's the kind of place where, if you shop there regularly, you learn where to speed up and slow down and you never risk forgetting to go down some aisle.

                                                        You can get a free ice cream (or coffee) for every $100 you spend; keep that receipt, you can go back and get another free ice cream with it another time.

                                                        Specials usually run from Wednesdays through Tuesdays. You can check the website before you go (or sign up for the regular emails) to help plan your menus based on what's on special sale.

                                                        1. re: zhelder

                                                          The thing about SL is:

                                                          The first time you go there, it IS fun and exciting and gets your pulse racing a bit if you are into this sort of thing...

                                                          The second time you go there, the thrill starts to fade. Sure, you find some cool things, but then you start to realize this place is expensive.

                                                          After a few times, you think: Do I REALLY want to go there and overpay and deal with the maze, or can I do better by going elsewhere...?

                                                          When Fairway became a convenient option for me, Stew's dropped out of the picture.

                                                        2. To me Stew's is much more comparable to Trade Joe's. Both have a strong empasis on prepared foods, which I am not a fan of. If you are a cook you want the raw ingredients, not prepared meals. So I've never seen the appeal of Stew's or Trader Joe's for serious home cooks. Fairway however is a cooks dream. Good prices, fresh ingredients and diversity. In my area, Dutchess County NY we have Adam's Fairacre Farms which is a nice alternative to Fairway, just a little smaller.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                            TJs occasionally has some really good ingredients that make it worth the trip. It frequently carries a wonderful vanilla paste, really large, really delicious stuffed olives that we use in martinis, marcona almonds, etc. I would never do a general shop there, but I make a special trip for things that I need.

                                                            1. re: roxlet

                                                              Exactly, I see them as a specialty store. Stew's is caught in the middle. You can certainly do a full shopping trip at Stew's but I think some of their specialty items or prepared dishes is what a lot of people know them for. For example their homemade chips or those puffed rice cakes. Both quality snacks but not the kind of thing that I would drive out of my way for.

                                                              1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog

                                                                My husband does most of the food shopping and goes to Costco just about every weekend and then does a quick run through Stews for things like milk and any other items that we did not want to get in bulk at Costco. We never buy prepared foods so I can't really comment on that, but we have definitely seen the quality of baked items decline at Stews. The baguettes used to be OK, but now they are barely edible IMO. Fairway has very good baguettes, bagels and other baked goods. Plus Fairway had an extensive variety of fruits and vegetables that is lacking at Stews. Once Fairway opens in Pelham, I wonder how frequently my DH will be going north, also considering that he has begun to purchase many bulk items at the Restaurant Depot in New Rochelle. Stews is just not that compelling a draw when Fairway will be in the area.

                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                  The Restaurant Depot in New Rochelle?

                                                                  Where is this? Thanks.

                                                                  1. re: anonymouse1935

                                                                    Sorry, I misspoke. The Restaurant Depot is in Mount Vernon on South Columbus Avenue,sort of behind the main drag iwhere Target et al are. It's a food service wholesaler that you have to join but you actually need to have a business to get a card. SInce my DH has a part-time BBQ business, he has gotten a membership card. Impeccably fresh fish that actually has the date and place it was caught or harvested.

                                                          2. Well gang, after spending a few days trying out Stew's food, I have to say I'm now hooked. In fact, I may make the trip every couple of months or so! My heart is big enough to love both Fairway and Stew's!

                                                            Thoughts on some of the items I got:

                                                            Strawberry and Chocolate Milks - Both great. The strawberry isn't super sweet, which make it better than most!

                                                            Eggnog - Excellent. Thick and creamy, full flavor.

                                                            Orange Juice - Very good. Comparable to Tropicana or Florida's Natural. Maybe a bit better.

                                                            Butter - Very good. Comparable to my favorite store brand, Land O Lakes.

                                                            Frozen Chocolate Ice Cream (Regular Half Gallon) - Very good. Comparable to better store brands.

                                                            Fresh Kettle Potato Chips - STELLAR. Maybe the best chips I've ever had.

                                                            Fresh Mozzarella - Excellent. I was rooting for Fairway on this one, but Stew's mozzarella is better. It's softer, creamier, and slightly fresher tasting. BUT.... it was $6.99 a pound. Fairway puts theirs on sale often for $3.99 or $4.99 per pound, and it's still very good.

                                                            Fresh Rosemary and Basil - Both are holding up surprisingly well.

                                                            Fried Chicken - So-so. Breading was pretty good, but the meat was a bit stale tasting. The pieces were HUGE though.

                                                            Buffalo Chicken Wings - Stew made up for the fried chicken with these. These are the best buffalo wings I have ever purchased from a grocery store. Meaty, good buffalo flavor without being overpowering, and they're breaded, just like I like 'em!

                                                            Apple Cider Donut Holes - Delicious! Great flavor and texture.

                                                            Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies - OK. Non-dairy, not as good as Entenmann's. Fairway's cookies blow these out of the water.

                                                            So, overall, a lot more hits than misses. The mozzarella, potato chips, and buffalo wings alone have me sold on going back occasionally!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: zhelder

                                                              Most of what you love isnt exactly healthy real food.

                                                              I'll go to Fairway for my produce, meats, seafood, poultry, groceries, grains, nuts, breads and baked goods...

                                                              1. re: zhelder

                                                                Thank you for giving Stew's a chance and for sharing your review.

                                                                We LOVE Stew and do most of our shopping there. It's also so much fun when you have tastings and the staff is so friendly, I had never seen this kind of service in a food store. We still go to our local Stop and Shop for supplementals and frozen items, but any meat and sea food only Stew.

                                                                It is also nice getting the ice cream on the way out when we spend $100 which we usually do since we do our major shopping there.

                                                                When I used to live in Manhattan I was never a fan of fairways. It wasn't bad and had good quality, but I never had as much fun grocery shopping as I do at Stew's. But I know that some people love it and there is a place for all places.

                                                              2. Can't say too much more than has already been mentioned, but having just gotten back from my first shopping trip to Fairway, I get the "not comparable" comments. I too grew up with Clover Farms / Stew's as THE family shopping source, and yes, I remember the vending machines across from Fitch school too. But Fairway is in a whole 'nuther stratosphere. The selection AND quality is jaw-droppingly amazing. Finally, I have found my one-stop source.

                                                                As an FYI, Stew did pay his debt to society, and I'm often willing to forgive/forget. However I read his book, and I can't say how much he passed on the opportunity to come clean. He does talk a lot about the 'regret' and all, but he does all he can to portray the crime as half accident. Merely 'taking bits of cash to help an employee to pay medical bills', or 'a future construction project'. The actual elaborate scheme that involved complex software manipulation to report false data to the IRS and the schlepping of suitcases full of cash off to the island mansion is not mentioned. . .

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: sofaman

                                                                  Note that in Stew Leonard's flyers, when describing the meat on sale, they typically just say USDA Inspected without disclosing the actual grade. That doesn't happen at Fairway.

                                                                2. Just did one of my favorite things to do- shopped at Fairway from 10-11pm. This weekend is Cookiepolooza, and I found almost everything I needed.

                                                                  Things I could not find: non-stick spray, dried milk, candy canes, and kelp powder.

                                                                  Now, Fairway just might have all of the above, but I just couldn't find those 4 before the store closed. Their weird product grouping has always confounded me, and with ALL THESE NEW FAIRWAYS I can find myself hopelessly lost and flailing in the aisles.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: julietg

                                                                    Stew's was listed on the Best Companies to Work For list from Fortune
                                                                    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortun...

                                                                    The reason they say is because the family members have to work as cashiers before they can do anything else. Well, of course they need to know how to "operate" the cash registers ;)

                                                                  2. I go to Stew Leonard's in Newington, CT. The meats and other goods are very nice. However, compared to other stores like Stop and Shop, their prices are very high!

                                                                    1. Stew's for dairy; Fairway for pretty much everything else.