Residents, officials welcome new Superfresh

North­ern Liber­ties res­id­ents joined May­or Nut­ter and Su­per­fresh ex­ec­ut­ives for a grand open­ing last week — just in time for some hur­ricane shop­ping.

Flanked by an At­lantic and Pa­cific de­liv­ery truck from 1926 and an enorm­ous six-tiered ro­tat­ing cake, May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter an­nounced the grand open­ing of North­ern Liber­ties’ new Su­per­fresh mar­ket last week.

On Fri­day, Aug. 26, Nut­ter was joined by a num­ber of elec­ted of­fi­cials as well as mul­ti­mil­lion­aire de­veloper Bart Blat­stein and A&P CEO Sam Mar­tin in un­veil­ing the new $37 mil­lion, 51,000-square-foot store — a first for the com­munity, Nut­ter said.

“This is the first su­per­mar­ket in this neigh­bor­hood ever,” noted Nut­ter.

Dis­cuss­ing the long de­vel­op­ment of the su­per­mar­ket — the pro­ject at 2nd Street and Gir­ard Av­en­ue had sat va­cant since a ground­break­ing in Feb­ru­ary of 2010 due to con­cerns re­lated to A&P bank­ruptcy filling last year — Nut­ter said that it was good to see the mar­ket open just in time for res­id­ents to get milk, eggs, bread, bat­ter­ies and oth­er needed items be­fore Hur­ricane Irene hit the city on Sunday.

“Every­one’s go­ing to be eat­ing French toast for the next few days,” joked the may­or.

For months, res­id­ents had looked at the loom­ing, empty build­ing, em­blazoned with the word “Path­mark,” and wondered just when the mar­ket would open.

Now open un­der its new monik­er, CEO Mar­tin said the name change means more than simply swap­ping out a sign.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view as he walked the huge store’s wide aisles near the fully stocked pro­duce sec­tion, Mar­tin told the Star that, after talk­ing with Nut­ter and re-ex­amin­ing the neigh­bor­hood’s dy­nam­ics, A&P felt Su­per­fresh would be a bet­ter op­tion for res­id­ents.

“We have a very ver­tic­al struc­ture, and we’ve had a new man­age­ment team for about a year and a half,” said Mar­tin. “It’s all one com­pany, but we wanted the flex­ib­il­ity this would provide.”

For ex­ample, Mar­tin said as a Su­per­fresh the store will have more flex­ib­il­ity to stock eth­nic and spe­cialty foods in many of the aisles than a typ­ic­al Path­mark store would.

“This mani­festo fits the neigh­bor­hood best. It’s a bet­ter fit,” he said. “I’m thrilled with how it turned out.”

But the store of­fers more than that. Already, the busi­ness provides more than 120 new jobs to the com­munity and, as A&P’s first new store in the state in more than 10 years, the busi­ness is bring­ing in fresh, loc­ally sourced foods as well.

Sea­food sold at the store is brought in daily from the Phil­adelphia Fish Mar­ket, while beef and poultry at the gro­cery store is raised at one of A&P’s 140 fam­ily-owned farms loc­ated throughout Pennsylvania and neigh­bor­ing states.

There is also an onsite phar­macy and a booth for fresh flowers.

Su­per­fresh also of­fers home de­liv­ery.

Dur­ing the day, City Coun­cil­man Dar­rell Clarke (D-5th dist.) who lives not far from the new North­ern Liber­ties com­plex, said res­id­ents in the area haven’t had a loc­al su­per­mar­ket for some time — the nearest sim­il­ar su­per­mar­ket is on Ara­mingo Av­en­ue — and he’s ex­cited to have a loc­al store for his own fam­ily.

“Un­like Sarah Pal­in, I can’t see Rus­sia from my house,” he joked. “But, I can see this Su­per­fresh from my house.”

Tak­ing a turn at the po­di­um, Blat­stein said the Su­per­fresh wouldn’t just be a center­piece of his new shop­ping com­plex, but it could be an “an­chor” for the en­tire com­munity.

“This is the an­chor now, not just of this de­vel­op­ment, but of this neigh­bor­hood,” Blat­stein said.

After the pa­geantry of the open­ing had ended, hun­dreds of shop­pers filled the store, check­ing out the new busi­ness and buy­ing needed items.

A hur­ried George Ten­ning, a North­ern Liber­ties res­id­ent, said he liked hav­ing the store close and con­veni­ent, but was sur­prised at the out­pour­ing of press and the at­ten­tion from elec­ted of­fi­cials the store re­ceived that day.

“I mean, there’s a lot of people here,” he said as he pushed a cart full of gro­cer­ies. “It’s nice, it’s con­veni­ent, but, I mean, it’s just a gro­cery store.”

However, Al­bert Lewis, who lives along Howard Street in Kens­ing­ton said the ex­cite­ment was well-earned as he was fi­nally able to get to a gro­cery store without need­ing to count on pub­lic trans­port­a­tion.

“This is great, really. It’s so nice to have something loc­al for once,” Lewis said as he ex­amined a fresh pack­age of ground beef.

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­

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