Wegmans Food Markets

February 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

I haven’t lived in the Rochester, NY area since 1998, but other than the people, what do I miss the most? Wegmans! Never heard of it? It’s a grocery store, but not just any grocery store, it’s a tourist destination. Where do you take visitors when they head to Rochester? Obvious stops – the fashionable East Side for lunch and Parkleigh Pharmacy, the George Eastman House, the Strong Museum, the Center at High Falls, any of the Finger Lakes for a wine tour, quaint stops in Pittsford or my former hometown – Fairport, and always your local Wegmans.

I recall mentioning to visiting friends, “We have to take you to Wegmans.” Sure, they thought it was a hike through a gorgeous gorge, a canal museum, a restored mansion, or a 5-star restaurant. When we mentioned it was a grocery store, I’m sure they thought we were a bit nuts. Why would anyone want to visit a grocery store?

Step inside one of the best grocery store chains in the U.S. It’s not only a great store for a foodie, in 2011 it’s the number three Best Place to Work in the country. Why? Innovation. Quality. Customer service. Danny Wegman listens to his staff to find out ways to improve on what is already a fine-tuned operation.

Where I live, Kroger is the closest grocery store and since I’ve arrived, I have noticed Kroger trying to look more like Wegmans and other model stores – Kowalski’s, Lunds and Byerly’s, and even the big Lincoln Park Whole Foods in Chicago. But, the quality just isn’t there, especially in produce. Yes, they’re trying to add more exotic varieties…I saw aloe stems there last week, though it’s not just enough to have the products, it’s more about the quality of what’s being offered. Like I mentioned in my last blog, moldy, bruised, withered, or underipe food is not appealing.

So, what do I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about Weggies? Produce is displayed attractively and when someone buys something, the produce people reshelve the section. If something doesn’t look up to snuff, it’s yanked. I don’t recall ever seeing anything that didn’t look or taste good. In the summer, local farmers sell their wares right in the store. Want fresh sweetcorn? Drive to the nearest farmer’s market or run into Wegmans. Looking for something for dinner? Stop in the ready to cook section or better yet, see what the store chef is preparing, place your order and pick it up on the way out the door. Figuring out what to prepare for dinner for the week? Look at the weekly recipe and get all the ingredients with the instructions, all in one place. Maybe you’re in the mood for seafood pizza (Yes, please!) and the little man wants Greek pizza. At the pizza counter order as many slices and varieties as you wish. Want Chinese take out? How about Mexican food? Need to get a jolt of java? And you MUST stop in the bakery for warm, cheese bread! Oh, what I’d give for half a loaf right this minute. Notice I didn’t say a slice? Who could eat just one slice of warm, cheese bread? No one I know. And in the fall what’s better than a concord grape pie? (Disappointly, Kroger had concord grapes for one week this past fall.) Pretty much, if you’re looking for food, you’ll find it at Wegmans.

When the Wegmans in VA near my son’s house opened a few years ago, upstate NYers were tailgating in the parking lot. Virginians didn’t understand this, but I bet they do now. If only Danny would bring Wegmans to the South. Those who came to visit Rochester enjoyed the stop at our local grocery store and went home wishing they too had Wegmans. Not much else out there like it. Keep it up, Danny and keep branching out, preferably in my direction! If you’re not lucky enough to live near a store, check out the website for recipes and other foodie information.

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