When the CVS on Eagle Rock Avenue in West Orange closed, the rumors started swirling. What would be coming to that space? Earlier this year, the greater West Orange kosher community first heard the buzz. Did you hear? We are getting a kosher supermarket!
In the February 14 issue of The Jewish Link of New Jersey, it was reported that, in fact, the township was getting a kosher supermarket. “With a goal of opening its doors this Memorial Day weekend, Aron’s West Orange is coming to town. This full-service kosher supermarket will be a ‘game changer,’ Rabbi Zwickler said.”
While Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, community members patiently attribute the late opening to “Jewish time.” “Maybe they meant Memorial Day weekend 2019?” said one local resident, half in jest.
Well, wait no more, West Orange. On Monday evening, July 2, Aron Hirtz, founder and owner of Aron’s Kissena Farms in Flushing and co-founder of Cedar Market in Teaneck, hosted an invite-only event to introduce some members of the West Orange and surrounding communities to all that Aron’s West Orange will offer. The evening included taste testing of some of the delicious store-made food that will be offered daily, courtesy of Beth Indyk of Herb n Spice Catering, who has joined the Aron’s West Orange team. Attendees were also treated to a full tour of the facility, as well as a Q&A with Aron’s West Orange team members.
The 9,000-square-foot facility, set to be the largest kosher supermarket in Essex, Union and Morris counties, will boast a full produce department that is intended to attract not just the West Orange, Livingston and Springfield Orthodox communities, but the local non-Orthodox community and non-Jewish customers as well, due to the planned competitive pricing and high quality. In addition to the produce, competitive pricing is also planned for the grocery items, allowing Aron’s West Orange to be somewhat of a one-stop-shop for food products. With 60 parking spots behind the store, there will be ample parking available on a regular basis to serve customers.
The store will offer fresh meat and poultry, along with a meat room where customers can speak with the butcher and special order items as needed. Indyk will have a full counter, with staples that will be prepared on site and available daily and specialty items that will rotate on a regular basis. There will also be grab-and-go items for shoppers in a hurry.
The local community is thrilled that Indyk will be participating in this endeavor. “Her food sings,” said one attendee. Indyk’s popular and successful catering business will continue through Aron’s West Orange.
The fresh fish counter will sell items to which the local community has not previously had access; in addition to salmon, there will be halibut, tuna, red snapper, cod and more, “anything as long as it’s kosher,” joked Motti Itzkowitz, the team’s fish manager. “If you want it, we’ll have it...with 24 hours notice we can probably get it for you.” In addition to fresh-cut fish, which will be delivered from the Bronx daily, customers can select a piece of fish to be grilled on site, ready for pickup in 10 minutes.
It was also noted that with the Queens store more than twice the size of the West Orange facility, there will be certain items that are sold in Queens and not regularly available in West Orange. However, customers can always request items to be delivered from Queens, and that can also typically be accommodated within 24 hours.
The store will house a dairy aisle as well as 25 frozen food doors, and also a bakery, where certain items will be baked on premises with others coming from off site.
Also in attendance on Monday evening was the proprietor of Hava Java in Monsey, soon to open Hava Java Express in the Aron’s Kissena Farms location, who reportedly was there scouting out the community, hinting of possible things to come.
With excitement, Hirtz stated, “We are designing for the community here. We know how to design for our customers in Queens. This community isn’t the same as Queens. We’ll learn the community here: a few weeks, a few months. We’ll learn it.”
Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, spiritual leader of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, who was instrumental in bringing Aron’s West Orange to the community, enthusiastically commented, “We have worked very hard to get to this point.” It was clear that his initiative and participation was very much appreciated by the entire team.
One local resident commented, “People moved here not expecting this, but the community has been growing and there’s a real need now.”
Also on Monday, the Facebook community was treated to the first-ever giveaway by Aron’s West Orange. Two rolls of sushi were to be given to 25 lucky winners, who had only to “like” or “love” the post and tag one friend to be eligible. As of this writing, the post had 311 “reactions” and 276 people had commented, but the winners had not yet been announced.
So now the big question is when. According to the Aron’s West Orange team: “August 1 is what we are planning for.” And for the skeptics out there, that’s August 1, 2018.
By Jill Kirsch