KIPS BAY — With the store's grand opening just hours away, staffers at the new Fairway Market in Kips Bay were hard at work Thursday morning, stocking shelves, unpacking cash registers and baking fresh goodies.
The 42,000-square-foot store, which is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. on Friday, will be the grocery chain's fourth location in Manhattan. It will include the standard, beloved Fairway offerings, such as a fully stocked meat and fish counter and wide aisles piled high with fresh produce, as well a few details unique to the new store.
Customers enter at street level, but all the food is located one floor down. As customers descend the escalator, they will enter the produce section first, where one entire wall is dedicated to organic fruits and veggies.
From there, shoppers pass through the bakery, where breads and other goodies are baked fresh in house. All are kosher, said Howie Glickberg, the grandson of Fairway's founder and the chain's vice chairman of development.
Three aisles are dedicated to organic products, and the store's coffee section stocks nearly 100 varieties of beans roasted in house.
The seafood counter was empty Thursday but would be filled soon, Glickberg promised.
"The one thing that we do better than anyone in New York City is our seafood department," he said. "Everything's fresh. We buy direct from boats."
Nearby, prime beef was being dry aged, a process that takes 21 days, and shelves were being stocked with chicken, sausages and other meats.
The Kips Bay store also features a deli and a dedicated cheese section, with more than 600 varieties available and a sign guiding customers to the best choice for their particular palettes.
Sushi was being crafted in advance for the opening, and the olive bar, which Glickberg called a customer favorite, was set up and ready to serve.
The store will also feature a hot food bar that will include between 65 and 75 different dishes every day, all of which are made in-house, Glickberg said.
The entrance of the store also features a painting of the Statue of Liberty, created by Floyd Simmons, the artist who designed the custom wall art for the new location.
Simmons, who "free paints with spray paint," had been painting overnight to complete the store's artwork in time for the grand opening, according to Jacqueline Donovan, Fairway's marketing director.
"He does every one of our stores," added Donovan, who explained that Simmons drew his first tomato for Fairway when he was around 8 or 10 years old. "[The murals] are part of what makes us like no other."
In total, the store employs roughly 400 people, including 100 staffers who worked at Fairway's Red Hook location before it was shuttered after Hurricane Sandy.
"I have people who care about what they do," Glickberg said. "We don't take shortcuts."
"You have the same basic store," he added, "and then each store takes on its own personality."