A popular and longtime favorite Brooklyn specialty grocery store is coming to Sunset Park.
Family owned Sahadi’s, a Brooklyn fixture that has had a location on Atlantic Avenue since 1948, will be opening up a second location in the ever-growing Industry City.
The market, which is a James Beard Award-winning specialty grocery, is known for its housemade hummus, falafel and other Mideastern foods, and its highly curated selection of imported olives, spices, cheese, nuts and more.
The location will be 52 35th Street. No opening date has been set though Sahadi’s in Industry City is aiming for a 2018 or early 2019 grand opening.
Co-owner Christine Sahadi Whelan talked to this paper about the family’s excitement about expanding in the six million-square-foot mixed-use complex.
“We are really excited about the opportunity to partner with Industry City,” she said. “We have been discussing joining them in their campus for quite a number of years. It’s a beautiful campus. They’re great partners. My husband Pat is a longtime part of the Sunset Park Waterfront Task Force and our warehouse is in that area so we are part of that community already.”
For decades, there have been many suitors wooing the family-operated business to branch out in their location, but ultimately, Sunset Park — where the store already has a manufacturing operation — seemed like the best fit.
“Every opportunity, we’ve really spent the time to evaluate. This is a neighborhood we are intimately devoted to already. We love being a part of it on the manufacturing level. The space is totally renovated and wide open and will give us opportunities that we don’t have on Atlantic. While other neighborhoods were extremely appealing for the new customer base, we felt that being close to our existing store, it makes it easier for us to be transporting goods, doing deliveries, things like that.”
The store also sees an opportunity to blend into the growing neighborhood of Sunset Park and still cater to its core consumer base.
“I see it as a really exciting venue right now. All the manufacturers are terrific. It’s a very artistic community,” Sahadi Whelan said. “The community itself has developed tremendously over the years. For us, it’s very centrally located between our customer base in downtown Brooklyn, Bay Ridge, Sunset, Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Gowanus. Our regular shoppers live in that area so I think it’s beneficial to both us and them to be in that community.”
Sahadi’s also expects to give back to the neighborhood.
“We love to be part of the community,” explained Sahadi Whelan. “I think that we’re definitely going to be hiring from the neighborhood. We’ll be participating in community events. We do it down here. We really are the fabric of any neighborhood that we participate in. I hope to be as welcoming to the neighborhood as they are going to be to us. We’re very excited to be there and also excited to be a part of the IC group. They’ve done a tremendous job with those buildings and have been tremendously supportive, so I think it’s going to be a great partnership and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to participate in it.”
Sustaining a family business is difficult in the changing economic climate. Somehow Sahadi’s has managed to grow when most businesses have folded. Sahadi Whelan attributes that to dedication.
“We really are a family business. We’re all involved all the time,” she said. “We’re always on the floor. Our staff is part of a connected family. We are multicultural and we all genuinely love what we do. We try to change with the times and when we adapt, we also try to stay true to our roots. We are a Lebanese family, with a Mediterranean culture, but we are Brooklynites and we try to blend together that Lebanese hospitality and that Brooklyn feeling. We want the customers leaving here feeling good. Shopping shouldn’t be a chore. It should be an experience. I want you to come in and try something new that you haven’t had before.”
The store’s famous spices also separate it from potential competitors.
“Our spices are imported then hand blended in our shop and hand packed,” Sahadi Whelan explained. “We don’t buy blends or mixes. We do that ourselves.”
Although Sahadi’s in Industry City will include the same high quality customers count on at its original location, they can expect a new experience in the new outpost.
“This location is going to be different than the store without a doubt,” she said. “We are going to be doing small scale manufacturing actually in the building. So they’ll be a facility where we bake pies, bake bread and it will all be visible. This is something we would have loved to have done before. There is also going to be seating there and we’re looking to bring in craft wine and beer from Lebanon. It’s going to be a different experience but the same in terms of cost, high quality goods, the same handmade products.”
CEO of Industry City Andrew Kimball is also excited about the addition.
“Sahadi’s new retail location will further enhance the diverse ecosystem of food makers and retailers growing at Industry City and strengthen its nearby manufacturing center,” he said. “We are excited to be a part of Sahadi’s continued growth in Sunset Park, where the company has operated for more than 30 years.”