Foodtown Store Owner Creates Unique Oasis in Brooklyn Neighborhood

Bushwick location boasts various unique custom design features that set it apart from most area grocers
 Foodtown  Brooklyn, N.Y.
A recently opened Foodtown store on Noll Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, N.Y., features such unusual design elements as custom-made elliptical produce fixtures and dramatic floating ceilings.


At first glance, the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, N.Y., is a bustling concrete landscape featuring rows of small businesses, with nothing remarkable to catch the eye, but walk a few blocks from the elevated subway station, and you’ll find a quieter community boasting what may be the borough’s most inventive grocery store. 

The approximately 15,000-square-foot Foodtown on the corner of Noll Street has been a true labor of love for store owner Shady Widdi, whose family operates two other Brooklyn supermarkets under the banner serviced by Iselin, N.J.-based Allegiance Retail Services. For one thing, the Bushwick store boasts various unique custom design features that set it apart from most area grocers. These include elliptical produce fixtures, whose shape is echoed by the nearby hot-/cold-food bar; roomy refrigerated end caps; an installation of constantly rotating gears to suggest a place that’s “always on the move”; graffiti-style artwork in the meat department; LED boxes in the frozen food section; and dramatic floating ceilings with an undulating motif.

Destined to Stand Out

Asked how this store’s distinctive look came about, Widdi notes that while he waited to take possession of the Noll Street location, for which he has a 50-year lease, he worked on his other stores, but “I knew that this design was going to be the one that was going to blow everybody out [of] the box. Everybody builds supermarkets – everybody – but what differentiates this person from that person is what they can do better, what they’re bringing to the table. … What can you bring to the table that nobody else has? How can you stand out?”

For Widdi, this meant gaining inspiration from retail stores that he encountered during trips abroad. “Even when we would go on vacation, my wife would be like, ‘Why are you taking pictures? You’re always into business,’” he recounts, adding that he would reply, “‘This is just an idea for the future. Maybe I’ll do it.’ Finally, all those pictures that I took over the years paid off.” He was particularly captivated by businesses he visited in Europe, observing, “I think they’re way ahead of us in design.”

[RELATED: 7 Must-Know 2024 Retail Design Trends]

Realizing the Dream

Getting his own vision just right proved daunting, however. During the years it took to get the store ready, “I was calling my designer every six months [with] changes,” admits Widdi. “I drove them crazy.”

He goes on to explain: “When you build out the space, you plug in whatever you think you can plug in, and then tweak things around. So you keep plugging and playing until you get [it] the way you want it. And especially because this store was so big [by New York City standards], it was something that I’ve always wanted to put everything that was in my dream to put in one store. And as I was going over time, I was adding more departments and taking away departments. I had a pizzeria, but then I discussed [it] with so many supermarket owners, and they told me: ‘Shady, I don’t think you should do it. A pizzeria is not doing good for any of us.’ It was something that came off my plans.’”

Despite the store’s upscale look, Widdi wanted to make sure that the many lower-income customers in the area weren’t scared away by high prices. “I probably have more deals than my surrounding supermarket competitors,” he asserts.

As for future plans regarding the store, Widdi still intends to build an outside café so customers can relax outside with a cup of coffee when the weather improves, as well as to install an ornamental fish tank – although not with the sharks that he originally wanted. “As I go, I’m still adding more and more,” he says. “I am not going to get this store to the perfection that I want until maybe one year from now. Come back in a year, and you’ll see.” 

Foodtown of Noll Street


Progressive Grocer got a 1st-hand look at the new state-of-the-art Foodtown in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn!!😊 Some convenient features include a fresh juice bar, sushi station, a large charcuterie counter, a barista coffee counter and more. ☕🍥🧀 The uniquely designed 15,000-square-foot supermarket is a key player in the REVITALIZATION efforts happening in the area, which had been a food desert for decades… #whatsnew #supermarket #foodtown #bushwick #groceryshopping #fyp

♬ original sound - Voice of grocery for 100+ yrs
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds