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The wait is over

Kosher supermarket to open in West Orange

Kosher-keepers in Essex County are heaving a sigh of relief and feeling a frisson of anticipation.

Ever since last spring — when unsuspecting customers arriving at the shuttered Aron’s kosher supermarket were met with signs on the entryway unceremoniously announcing the store’s closure — they have been waiting and hoping for a replacement. With its convenient location in the synagogue-rich West Orange and vicinity, a one-stop market offering everything from kosher soup to nuts was a boon to the Jewish community — and its absence had been sorely felt.

The wait is over. The West Orange Fooderie will open on Sunday, Oct. 23, and its owner, Shlomo Gornish, his voice reflecting his enthusiastic drive as he embarks on this venture, said that he is mindful of the impact the full-scale supermarket’s arrival will have on the community.

Of course, Mr. Gornish, who lives in Jackson, did his due diligence after receiving nearly “desperate” calls from community leaders to urge the long-time supermarket entrepreneur to “act fast” — they had heard a market — one not strictly kosher — might soon be filling the space.

Among those who had reached out to him was Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, religious leader of the Orthodox Congregation Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob & David in West Orange (whose efforts made him chief among those who facilitated the opening of Fooderie); he also heard from Chaim Goldman, the owner of Simply Sushi, the kosher chain with restaurants in New York and a few locations in New Jersey.

As Mr. Gornish explored the commercial kosher landscape, he recognized what the opening of Fooderie — a branch of Montreal’s “largest only-kosher supermarket” — means to members of the Jewish community.

Shlomo Gornish is readying the Fooderie to be “the local store for everybody in the community.”

But, he said, while his aim is to serve the kosher-observant population with a full scope of certified products and everything else they might need to run a kosher home, he wants Fooderie to be more: he plans to operate an “all-inclusive” establishment for all — including people who may live within walking distance of the store — so that “everybody should feel this is their local store.”

For Mr. Gornish — “Shloimy” to his friends — part of this vision includes the presence of kiosks serving fare from outside concessions, to create a kind of food court where customers can sit and enjoy their noshes at in-store tables. There will be places for early visitors to get coffee and a bagel or pastry (opening will be early in the morning for those on their way to work or school) a slice of pizza (from Super Duper Bagels in Livingston), or a deli sandwich, and, of course, sushi, courtesy of Simply Sushi.

Customers also will find a salad bar and spots to get smoothies and ice cream.

Mr. Gornish even envisions a Saturday night spot where people can gather for a bite in the winter, when Shabbat ends early.

In short, it’s a welcoming dining venue, for early birds to night owls.

While emphasizing that he still has many details to work out, Mr. Gornish also looks forward to offering customers the full gamut of electronic ordering, on-line and through an app, as well as delivery service and curbside pickup, all in the not-too-distant future.

One of the aisles stocked and ready.

And, in reference to the “all-inclusive” concept, while shoppers will know that everything in the store is kosher, Mr. Gornish knows the neighborhood and environs are home to people with a variety of backgrounds. He wants them to feel welcome at Fooderie too and plans to offer products reflecting Mexican, Indian, and Spanish traditions, along with other ethnic cuisines. He said he wants all customers to “walk in feeling that this is the local store for everybody in the community.”

This is all in addition to “the basics” — meat, poultry, and fish, most fresh-cut and some seasoned and ready to cook. There will be aisles for frozen foods, dairy products, grocery items — both “Jewish brands and regular supermarket brands,” Mr. Gornish said — and a produce department with fruits and vegetables.

Catering services will be available, and in keeping with the one-stop shopping approach, customers will also find a full array of paper goods, as well as toiletries, party goods, and useful items for babies.

Mr. Gornish said he also will strive to keep prices as low as possible.

He sees himself in the next few months as working “in stages, evolutionizing the store to discover the real needs of the people.” He said he welcomes feedback from customers and requests for products and services, which he will do his utmost to fulfill.

But there’s still a lot to get done by opening day, Oct. 23, which, Mr. Gornish said, the whole community is invited to attend. “I want people to be excited about our arrival,” he said; that includes having “giveaways for customers.” The following weeks will be what he called “a softer opening.” Once things are in full operation, he looks forward to a grand opening that will celebrate what he feels certain will be West Orange Fooderie’s long, long presence in the community.

(The West Orange Fooderie is at 629 Eagle Rock Ave., West Orange. Shlomo Gornish can be reached at sam@westorangefooderie.com.)

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