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Dec 20, 2009 10:52 AM

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!

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  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.

                            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.

                          2. re: gunksny

                            Another vote for Fairway over SL....