I’ve been hearing the term “food desert” a lot this year. It refers to areas where it’s hard to find real food—produce, protein, olive oil, potato salad in a glass case. There are huge areas of America where you’d have to drive a LONG way to find a supermarket. Indeed, whenever I fly to the west coast, I can’t spot a single Whole Foods from Indiana to LA, and I have superb vision. Citizens of these areas are forced to purchase their food at gas stations. Sounds fun for a second. They get to live on string cheese and single bananas and those weird cups of pineapple? Lucky!!!! But then you realize they’ll never know the joy of holding the green grinder button to fill a container with warm, creamy almond butter. That’s no way to live.
Red Hook—a cool, industrial, burgeoning neighborhood in south Brooklyn—is now facing a similar fate thanks to the impending closure of its sole grocery store.
Red Hook is known for a couple things: they have a massive Ikea (not that I’ve ever seen a small Ikea); Hometown BBQ, which is sensational; some cool breweries and distilleries; and of course, their famous Fairway Market. It is also known for being impossible to get to, as there are no subways even close. As such, residents rely on their beloved Fairway as though it’s the last clean greenhouse in a post-nuclear devastation world.
The first time I visited Red Hook, everyone told me to go to the Fairway. I’m of the mindset that if people tell you that a grocery store is a must-see attraction in their town, you should skip that town. I did some shows in Rochester last year and everyone insisted I hit the Wegmans. “You gotta go to Wegmans!” they all said. I went to Wegmans. Turns out, I didn’t have to go to Wegmans. It’s a fucking grocery store.
But you come to realize that in a food desert, a grocery store becomes the center of the town, the hub of sustenance, the place to meet a date even. For what could be more romantic than a first date spent picking through the hot food bar, filling your styrofoam pig trough with foods that don’t work together, shaking the whole thing up as you walk to the cashier, and eating brown, congealed slop with plastic sporks at one of four cast-iron tables set inside the fucking store? Ah, young love.
In all seriousness, the closing of this grocery store could actually affect the property values in Red Hook. How crazy is that? There’s a Whole Foods in Gowanus just TWO miles away, but it might as well be in Saigon. It really is crazy to think that two miles in New York is equal to sixty miles in Maine, from an inconvenience perspective.
The residents of Red Hook to to Twitter to voice their dismay. May God have mercy on their cheese-bereft souls.
Official statement from Fairway Market- Despite reports, Fairway Market has no intention to file for chapter 7 or liquidate all of its stores. Such statements are categorically untrue and disappointing. Fairway has been engaged in a strategic process and expects to soon announce a value maximizing transaction that will provide for the ongoing operations of stores. Our lenders remain extremely supportive of our efforts. All 14 stores remain open for business, offering a complete range of high quality, specialty food products, and we look forward to seeing our customers and employees.