Inaugural Food Cellars Store in Queens to Focus on Natural and Organic

Food Cellars, the 22,000-square-foot supermarket that opened yesterday in Long Island City, N.Y. is more than just the first supermarket to open in that underserved neighborhood in the New York borough of Queens -- the upscale location, which carries "99.9 percent all-natural and organic" products, also represents the start of a "great vision" for a fledgling banner, according to partner Metin Mangut.

In an interview with Progressive Grocer, Mangut affirmed plans to expand the banner in the New York metropolitan area, noting, "This is our first store, but it won't be our last."

Mangut declined to reveal specific expansion plans, but said one possible hitch to growth could be space: A prospective site would need to offer "a minimum of 20,000 square feet," he said.

As for the organic and all-natural offering, Food Cellars goes so far as to maintain a list of banned items it won't buy, including food preservatives potassium chloride and sodium benzoate, as well as artificial colorants.

"We don't have any junk here," Mangut asserted.

It also doesn't have high prices, he said, despite its upscale presentation and a name that trades on gourmet associations with wine cellars. Mangut insisted that prices are comparable to those in conventional supermarkets, thanks to Food Cellars' collaborations with such big natural wholesalers as United Natural Foods and Tree of Life.

When asked whether Food Cellars was a full-service grocery store, Mangut replied, "You can find everything here." Among the things shoppers will find at the location are a sushi bar, a bakery, and a food court seating around 40.

Another trade press sources reported that Amish Market, a gourmet and international food operator with a handful of locations in the New York area, was to operate the Food Cellars banner, But Mengut said that although his partner in the new venture, Erhan Bahceci, is also involved in the operation and management of Amish Market, there is otherwise no connection between the two grocery companies.
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