It’s a brand new Seasons.
The completely remodeled supermarket, for many years branded as Supersol, is the latest enhancement in a world of increasingly upscale kosher shopping experiences. And its opening, anticipated by the end of January, will likely supercharge the relatively quiet Lawrence business district.
When The Jewish Star toured the store, at 330 Central Ave., electricians with payot and tzitzit were taking care of finishing touches, and the stocking of shelves had begun.
The building’s outside is finished smoothly in purple and gold with large glass windows and bright energy efficient lighting.
The inside has been ”reconfigured and repositioned within the existing building, with prep areas moved to the basement [to] provide more shopping space,” explained Mayer Gold, who manages the entire Seasons chain. Seasons has supermarkets in Kew Gardens Hills, the Upper West Side and Scarsdale, with new stores in the works for Lakewood, NJ, and in Pikesville near Baltimore.
Gold views Seasons as a kosher Whole Foods, except with more reasonable prices.
The new Seasons will feature concessions-based specialty areas, a concept popularized by Seasons in Kew Gardens Hills and by Gourmet Glatt in Cedarhurst. Shloimie’s bakery will be closing its storefront at 536 Central Ave. in Cedarhurst and opening in the Lawrence Seasons, joining Sushi Meshuga of Flatbush, Raskin’s fish of Crown Heights, and Mechy’s deli from the Kew Gardens Hills Seasons.
“It’s the new way to go,” said Gold. “It’s the best of everything in the store.”
While the building still has entrances on Central Avenue in front and from the municipal metered parking lot in the rear, that, too, has been changed.
“It was a challenge before,” explained Gold. Shoppers went “in and out the same door through the produce section; the traffic flow made it difficult to shop.”
Now there is a more spacious entryway, as well as a separate exit hallway, the walls faced with multicolored natural stone veneer and large windows.
Overall, the store feels much more expansive than before, the result of the large windows and the raising of the ceiling by two feet, as well as the availability of greater space resulting from the move of prep areas to the basement,
Gold noted that the architect called in two years ago, before reconstruction, commented that the store hadn’t changed in 35 years
In the basement, Gold pointed out the meat kitchen, the dairy kitchen, the produce prep area, and the bedika room “built to the specifications of Rabbi Eisen of the Five Towns Vaad” for checking vegetables with a place for a mashgiach and a “full team of workers, cleaning, checking.”
Clifford Richner, vice president of Richner Communications (housed on Central Avenue down the street from the Seasons site until 2004), grew up in the Five Towns and remembers the Seasons location as a Double E supermarket. He also noted that Amazing Savings was a Waldbaums supermarket and then a Newmark and Lewis appliance store. He pointed out that Supersol, before Seasons, predated both Gourmet Glatt and Brachs kosher supermarkets in the Five Towns.
The store changed ownership in April 2011 when it was sold by Laurie Garber to a group of owners, including Gold, in the Five Towns-Far Rockaway area. It took until April 2013 to complete the planning and begin construction on revamping the store.
The new store has seven registers with one outfitted for the disabled and double strollers.
As at its other locations, the Lawrence Seasons will have two shopping carts designed for disabled children, noting that they are the first kosher store to have them. Called Caroline’s carts, they are sponsored by Cross River Bank in New Jersey by “frum guys,” said Gold.
“They do it because they care.”
He noted the positive and friendly relationship between the owners and managers of Seasons, Gourmet Glatt, and Brachs, how Gourmet Glatt helped Seasons after a fire ravaged Seasons’ Kew Garden Hills store on the eve of its opening in 2011, and the unfortunate circumstances that allowed them to return the favor when Gourmet Glatt had a fire in November the same year.
“We always have a good working relationship,” he said, with all of them helping Achiezer and the local bikur cholim and after Hurricane Sandy. “It’s very unusual.”
Gold’s food experience began in Camp Agudah where he ran the canteen when he was 15 years old. He said he worked for Garber at Supersol for 12 years, for Pomegranate for three years, and now as overall general manager for Seasons.
He’s been living in Far Rockaway for more than 20 years and his eight children attend four different yeshivot in the area.
Benji Schrier of Woodmere will continue as manager of the Lawrence store.
“People are waiting for the store to open,” said Gold. “It’s been an institution in town for 30 years. They are excited for us to come back. We hope to be open by the end of January. It’s up to the Ribbono Shel Olam.”
“We are eagerly awaiting their reopening,” said Hashi Gluck of Five Towns Judaica.
“We sorely missed them. They are nice people and we are very happy to have them back. It’s the anchor of the block.”