Where to go to prepare a Square meal?
On the Mark — By Craig
Highland Square residents have been without a grocery store since the Star Market closed, and their patience is running out. A worst-case scenario: By the time another grocery opens in their neighborhood, bag boys will be asking customers, “Would you like paper, plastic or should we simply beam your groceries directly into your kitchen?”
It was not supposed to be that way. When the new development for Highland Square was drawn up, a grocery was part of the deal. But according to Joe Albrecht, the manager of retail properties for Albrecht Inc., grocers are not clamoring to fill the space.
In a recent article Albrecht said, “If there is no grocery store to be had, we can’t materialize it out of thin air.” (He’s right. Such a practice was banned after the 1987 Orange Bowl halftime show, when David Copperfield conjured up a Pick ‘n’ Pay that caused minor injuries to a marching band’s horn section.)
Another Albrecht family-owned business, the F.W. Albrecht Grocery Co., operates the Acme stores, including nearby Acme No. 1, located at the corner of Orange and Barrel. Its proximity to Highland Square has led to accusations that Albrecht hasn’t exercised due diligence in finding a tenant. To use a “Friends” analogy, it’s like Ross being in charge of finding suitable dates for Rachel.
But it can’t be an easy task to find Mr. Right. The pool of potential grocery store candidates is not what it was in my youth, when West Market lived up to its name.
In those days, food marts lined the street, and my brother and I were dragged to many of them each Saturday morning. My mother and grandmother would begin the tour at the old Acme No. 1 (where the Sherwin-Williams store is now) and the trip would end with a visit to Fazio’s. In between, we might stop at Bisson’s or the A & P, and, if we were promised ice cream at Barnhill’s, we might consent to travel a little farther to do some Krogering.
But it’s been years since anyone in this area has Krogged (the present-perfect tense of the verb Kroger). A Target store is where the Fairlawn Fazio’s used to be, and, not far from it, the A & P now houses an animatronic mouse selling pizza to children. Acme and Giant Eagle are left to rule the roost, with Marc’s, West Point Market and the Mustard Seed catering to their niches.
If ever built, which of these will the Highland Square grocery resemble? It’s an eclectic neighborhood, and one grocery store may not fit all needs. Near perfection might be an independent, upscale, deep-discounting grocery store with wide aisles and a wide selection, in a building expansive but not obtrusive. Not exactly a piece of cake (which should be made fresh daily, with organic milk and free-range eggs).
But such talk is premature. We shouldn’t put the cart before the horse, at least until the cart has some grocer’s name on it.