Food & Drink

Whole Foods opens with a bang amid Newark's boom

97fba009aa3ad6f9d27b_Wholefoods1.jpg
Karim Aquil Sharif, a chef who lives in Newark, at the meat counter at Whole Foods Market in Newark on opening day. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
46de476902a2763bd5ed_WholeFoods2.jpg
Shoppers browsing the isles in Whole Foods Supermarket on opening day. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
4a33635a7c79306c3994_WholeFoods3.jpg
Shoppers browsing the isles in Whole Foods Supermarket on opening day. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
b15521960fa8e0a204f3_Wholefoods4.jpg
Shoppers browsing the isles in Whole Foods Supermarket on opening day. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
97fba009aa3ad6f9d27b_Wholefoods1.jpg

When the glass doors slid open at the long-anticipated Whole Foods market opening on Wednesday, Karim Aquil Sharif, a chef who lives in Newark, stood right in the middle of the store, in a state of giddy excitement, as more than 500 people poured in around him.

"I'm a chef, and I just bought some store-made Italian chicken sausage, and I'm going down the aisle to buy some broccoli rabe to go with it," said Sharif, a Central Ward resident, as he eyed some organic New Zealand lamb shanks. 

"The opening of this store means that I don't have to travel seven miles to Whole Foods when I've got one here in my backyard," Sharif said. "Anything that I need for good nutrition, in a place that used to be a food desert, I can get right here, right now." 

Sign Up for E-News

The opening of the upscale market is also something of a positive affirmation for Newark, another indication that the city abandoned by the middle class after the 1967 riots has finally, once and for all, turned the corner.

Whole Foods is located at 633 Broad Street in the refurbished Hahne & Co. building, itself a symbol of Newark's storied past that was left for dead, then brought back to life as a repurposed multi-use building that combines living spaces with retail, academic and public spaces.

The Hahne's building is directly across from the recently-renovated Military Park, which is now ringed by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), a refurbished Robert Treat Hotel, the new Prudential Tower and a Starbucks coffee shop, with other development projects in the works. It is two blocks away from Rutgers-Newark, which just opened a new bookstore in the Hahne's building.

It is the now the newest of the 17 stores located in New Jersey, and the third of three in Essex County. Those county locations, situated in the nearby suburbs of Montclair and West Orange, are dedicated destinations in their own right. 

The hope in Newark is that the 29,000 square-foot market, which was over three years in the making, lined with gleaming aisles packed with organic products such as fresh vegetables (including boutique purple potatoes), 100 percent grass-fed meat and artisanal cheese, becomes a destination as well.

"This morning, I looked up and I saw the sign, and I said, 'This is us,'" said Mayor Ras Baraka, a pescatarian who later looked to buy vegan ice cream. "They've hired more than 90 workers from Newark [out of 145 total workers], and they are selling local products from places like AeroFarms and T.M. Ward Coffee. Whole Foods is working with the community." 

As an array of dignitaries and representatives of 11 Newark businesses and non-profit organizations ringed the podium, Baraka also lauded former Newark mayor and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a vegetarian who is now a former customer of the Montclair Whole Foods. Instead of a ribbon cutting, the dignitaries broke bread.

"This was Sen. Booker's vision," Baraka said about New Jersey's junior U.S. Senator, who lobbied Whole Foods for years to get one of their markets in Newark. "He got us in the game, and if you're not in the game, you can't play." 

Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins noted that the Whole Foods was the second quality supermarket to open in the city's Central Ward in as many years. 

"I look forward to more quality supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses opening in Newark," Chaneyfield Jenkins said. "The message we need to send today is that our residents can support stores like Whole Foods. The fact is that our residents have been shopping in the suburbs for years, taking our money out of the city. Now we are starting to turn that around and spending our money in our city at businesses that employ our residents."

Some observers of the new market, a harbinger of the accelerating gentrification of New Jersey's largest city, are concerned about the prices and affordability of a store chain better known as "Whole Paycheck," with higher prices that reflect the high quality of the food. 

Other longtime Newarkers are also concerned about changes in the store's Central Ward neighborhood that they fear could price local residents out.

"This is exciting and this creates new jobs, but it really starts the flood of gentrification. This means that people are going to get displaced," said Natasha Pereira, an Ironbound resident. "Some of those apartments [at the neighboring Hahne's building] go for more than $2,500 a month. That's not for the people who have been living here for 30 years." 

But Joshua Knoblick, an artist who has lived in Newark for 10 years and whose family has lived in Newark for 250 years, has a different view. 

"Newark has a unique opportunity to get it right, and everyone seems to be on that train," said Knoblick. "I see what's coming down the pipe, and this looks like a part of inclusion." 

Junius Williams, a city stalwart who played a key role in Newark's recent 350th anniversary celebrations, looked at the Whole Foods opening from yet another perspective. 

"Yes, it's part of gentrification, but I see neighborhood people and friends here," said Williams, as he carried some tuna salad and some gourmet Spanish cheese. 

"Newark has been food-starved for a long time, and [Whole Foods] was sensible enough to lower their prices so that the community that is Newark now can come and shop, not just the community that is to be," Williams said. "I'm concerned about gentrification, but there are people who are shopping in here that come from Newark." 

For one of the shoppers crowding the aisle on Ash Wednesday, the new market was a miracle, a sign of the city's resurrection. 

"I work in Montclair, but I live in Newark. I can now spend my money here," said Crystal Gaynor, a personal trainer, as she bought bananas for 49 cents a pound and whole chickens for 99 cents a pound. "This is a gift." 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Bloomfield

Town Hall-Style ‘Knock Out Opioid Abuse’ Forum at Bloomfield Public Library Tuesday 6:30 p.m.

May 21, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services is holding a Town Hall-style forum where residents can discuss the opioid crisis affecting families throughout New Jersey. They will also have the opportunity to be a part of the solution to the epidemic.

The forum, ‘Knock Out Opioid Abuse’ will take place Tuesday, May 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Mexi-Flip Taco Truck Brings Taco Tuesday Back to Essex Junction in Bloomfield Center

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - Taco Tuesday returns to Essex Juntion in Bloomfield Center as the Mex-Flip taco truck takes over the kitchen from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Taco Tuesday at Essex Junction marks the collaboration of two businesses in Bloomfield Center. "Our ambition inspired this collaboration in the things that I do," Salinas told TAPinto Bloomfield. "We do things for ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, May 21, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_a81dc540efff370ae7ae_mini_magick20180521-88833-181vqmc

Tue, May 22, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

How to Live Longer and Stay Healthy

Health & Wellness

Wed, May 23, 7:30 PM

Cedar Grove Public Library, Cedar Grove

The Caldwell Railway

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_40b003ff9ce0ffa8ab85_appropriate

Thu, May 24, 8:00 PM

Upper Montclair

Appropriate

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_b4f18dfd4f07fd561026_letslisten7-ellington-mplspecs-revised

Fri, May 25, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library Auditorium, Montclair

Let's Listen to Jazz

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_40b003ff9ce0ffa8ab85_appropriate

Fri, May 25, 8:00 PM

Upper Montclair

Appropriate

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_99142f7b5a1dd8d2792d_into_the_woods

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

Studio Playhouse, Upper Montclair

Into the Woods Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Bloomfield Police Department Blotter April 30 to May 6, 2018

May 9, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The following police blotter has been issued by Lt. Anthony Sisco of the Bloomfield Police Department.

Shoplifting:

4/30/18- Robert Gainer of Newark, NJ- Officers were dispatched to 250 Glenwood Avenue (CVS) on a report of a shoplifting. The store manager observed an unknown African American male wearing a tan and black striped coat and black pants, walk out of ...

Original Pancake House of West Caldwell Evacuated in Possible Pepper Spray Incident

May 19, 2018

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The Original Pancake House in West Caldwell was evacuated early Saturday afternoon due to a possible pepper spray incident that caused ambulances from the West Essex, Verona and Bloomfield First Aid Squads to assist at the scene.

Bianca Pietro, a West Orange mother of two, said she was seated inside the glass atrium on the south side of the building that faces ...

Lawson-Muhammad Apologizes For 'Irrational Response' To Police Altercation; School Board President Supports Her

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -  A day after video surfaced of her altercation with a South Orange police officer -- in which she used profanity, threatened to go to the village president and called the police chief “a skinhead cop” -- South Orange Maplewood School Board member Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad issued an apology in which she called her behavior “uncharacteristic” and ...

Buy a Vet... Program Helps Formerly Homeless Veterans

May 21, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - It started with a collection to help fund a Memorial Day barbecue at the Valley Brook Village veterans facility in Lyons, NJ. When the bucket collection raised $7,000 at John's Meat Market in downtown Scotch Plains, they decided to keep it going and had barbecues all summer. The program has grown ever since.

Steve Hackenberg, a Scotch Plains ...

Peru Claims 1-0 Victory Over Colombia as Soccer Legends Show Off Skills in Paterson

PATERSON, NJ- During their playing days Carlos Valderama and Julio Uribe led their teams to victory in some of the largest soccer stadiums across the globe. On Saturday, the men, known better as “El Pibe” and Uribe, brought their talents to Paterson’s Baurele Field.

The rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the nearly 500 fans who turned out to watch these beloved players ...

Southern Ocean Made Brew Trail Awarded for NJ Tourism Excellence

May 18, 2018

SHIP BOTTOM, N.J. -The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce proudly announces its selection for the The New Jersey Tourism Industry Excellence Award for its recently launched Southern Ocean Made Surf & Sip Brew Trail. They join a select group across the state being recognized for the accomplishments of those who achieved true excellence in providing an exceptional experience that ...

Letter to the Editor: Gum Litter and what YOU can do about it

May 15, 2018

Gum is non-biodegradable, meaning it doesn't’t break down ever….

Today, the unlikely problem surfaces. The average person chews 275 sticks of gum per year. With the amount of people in daily society, it’s no mystery why chewing gum is the second most littered item after cigarette butts.  Did you know that gum is banned in Singapore?

In addition to littering human ...

To the Editor: Notes for Mr. and Mrs. Webber On How to Complain About Stuff

Well, it looks like I have at least three things in common with Jay and Johanna Webber: (a) We live in the 11th District; (b) We believe family is important; (c) We have experienced life in big families -- I'm the third of seven kids myself. So of course I noticed the statements the Webbers recently shared on Facebook – which took something one person said about Jay’s ...

Bloomfield Bengals Sports Update May 21, 2018

Volleyball advanced to the County final with wins over Science Park and Montclair. Unfortunately, Livingston got the better of the Bengals in the County Championship Match.   

At the County Track and Field Championship Meet the Girls Team had a fine showing placing 5th overall. Leading the way was Kaela Edwards-2nd in high hurdles and Aicha Naouai- 2nd in javelin. The best ...

Bloomfield Bengals Athletic Update May 14 2018

 At the SEC Championship Meet La’Shan White equaled his school record in winning the 400-meter hurdles. He also won the 110- meter High Hurdles and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team. Aicha Naouai won the Javelin with a throw of 126’6.5(#9 NJ) and the Discus with a mark of 95’5”. Warlys Lizardo won the Boys Discus at 120’.

Kristina Collins reached ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 21, 2018




The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!


STATEWIDE - Should public school students be allowed to attend schools in other towns? That's the big, controversial question in a lawsuit filed against the state that looks to end what some consider to be the worst school segregation in the nation. The ...

School’s Out: Your Exclusive Summer Getaway Guide

May 20, 2018

Summer... a time to do whatever you please without having the stress of school or work.

But like many others, you may find yourself unsure of how to spend your summer days. So, if you’re looking for something cool to do when it’s hot, consider these ideas:

Get Cultured: Metropolitan Museum of Art: If you’re fascinated with art of all sorts from classic to modern, then this ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...

Bloomfield Community Member Sworn in as Advocate for Foster Youth

May 21, 2018

Elizabeth Alva Freyre of Bloomfield was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) by Essex County Superior Court Judge Grimbergen on May 18, 2018.  Elizabeth recently completed 33 hours of training to become an advocate for Essex County's abused, neglected or abandoned children who were removed from their homes ...

Music Under the June Moon Outdoor Concert in Anderson Park June 9

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Enjoy a magical evening of moonlight and music in Anderson Park in Montclair on Saturday, June 9, with the third annual "Music Under the June Moon" chamber music concert.

Bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy the Chamber Music Society of North Jersey playing under the park's historic Olmsted Oak. This free concert begins at 8 ...

Golf Outing On May 26 Benefits Retired Racehorses

MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, N.J. —May 29, will mark Standardbred Retirement Foundation's (SRF) 26th Annual Charity Golf Outing being held at the beautiful Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, N.J.

This much anticipated event is held in conjunction with SRF's online auction which will open for bidding beginning Friday, May 25 and end at 7 p.m. on  Thursday, June 7. The outing ...

Beyond Speed Bumps! Alternatives for Traffic Calming: Free Conference June 9 at Seton Hall University

South Orange Neighborhoods Association (SONA) in conjunction with South Orange Seniors and North Jersey Neighborhoods Connected (NJNC) will be sponsoring "BEYOND SPEED BUMPS - Alternatives for Traffic Calming," a free conference at Seton Hall University on June 9 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Not every town can afford to put in a speed bump! And they can't do it on ...

Obituaries

Jul 4, 1933 - May 18, 2018
Maria A. Probst (nee: Geiger), 84 of Bloomfield passed away on May 18. Her final days were spent ...
Read more
Jul 21, 1966 - Apr 6, 2018
Sheila Rossi (nee Borges) 51, of Nutley, NJ died peacefully on April 6, 2018. Visitation will be ...
Read more