Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do we need a Wegmans in Bergen County?

Wegmans: Marketplace
Wegmans sells a large variety of prepared food for time-pressed shoppers.

Correction: After reading news reports about the size of Wegmans Food Markets, I called company headquarters and was told the Woodbridge store is nearly 140,000 square feet. A year ago, an employee told me the store is 45,000 square feet.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

At nearly 140,000 square feet, the Wegmans in Woodbridge is one of the biggest supermarkets in the state.

I visited the store this week, about a year after my initial visit, and I continue to be impressed with some of the low prices and the large number of products sold under the Wegmans label.

But it also became clear this store offers a great deal of pricey prepared food -- for takeout or to enjoy on a second level, where there are tables and chairs for about 200 customers.

Steam-table meals

A year ago, we had an expensive lunch of hot food from the Asian Wokery, for $7.99 a pound, and brown rice cost extra. 

Now, the price is $8.49 a pound.

This time, I tried one of the $6 meals -- an entree and two sides. But when I asked for vegetables, I was told I could select four cold items weighing a total of 1 pound. 

The meal was colorful -- crunchy string beans, zucchini with tomatoes and so forth -- but needed salt and other seasoning. 


Western Sushi found at Wegmans Supermarket
Sushi at a Wegmans Food market.

The clam-shell container had a recycling symbol on it, but an employee told me to throw it in the garbage.

"We don't recycle it," she said emphatically.

No free lunch

The Woodbridge Wegmans isn't big on free samples, unlike Costco Wholesale or Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood.

I got a tiny piece of Alaskan halibut, a heart-healthy fish, but the employee said he prepared it in artery clogging butter and offered to pour more butter sauce on the small piece he gave me.

The prices for fresh, wild-caught fish at Wegmans are some of the highest I've seen. 

Organic meats

In refrigerated cases, I saw Wegmans Organic Chicken Drumsticks for $2.99 a pound and Organic Grass-Fed Sirloin Steak for $11.79 a pound.

In view of all the prepared food, this is the supermarket for people who don't bother planning meals and expect dinner to materialize at the end of the workday.

A Wegman's store in Manalapan, NJ.
A Wegmans in Manalapan.

They usually end up eating a takeout rotisserie chicken or stop for unhealthy fast food.

I picked up four 24-ounce jars of Wegmans pasta sauce for 99 cents or $1.99 each -- the lowest prices I've seen anywhere.

Quick dinner

When I got home this past Monday night, I heated up the delicious Italian Classics Vodka Sauce ($1.99) and mixed it with 100% whole-wheat pasta spirals from Trader Joe's.

One thing I couldn't find at Wegmans is  whole-wheat pasta.

Do we needs a Wegmans in Bergen County?

No. I'm still waiting for a one-stop food-shopping experience, with high quality and low prices.

Until then, I'm content to make the rounds, looking for ingredients for home-cooked meals at Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market, ShopRite, H Mart, the Korean chain; and Jerry's.

Update

On May 15, the local daily newspaper reported Wegmans may open a store in the wealthy Bergen County town of Montvale, which is on the New York State border.

That will make two friends who are big fans of the Woodbridge Wegmans very happy, because they live near Montvale. 

But for most Bergen residents, the opening of a Wegmans so far from them would be a non-event.


Wegmans Food Market, 15 Woodbridge Center Drive, Woodbridge; 732-596-3200. 

Open 7 days from 6 a.m. to midnight. Woodbridge is about 35 miles south of Hackensack.
 

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3 comments:

  1. You wouldn't know a one stop food shopping experience if it hit you in the head. I think you enjoy driving from one store to the other, praising the items you like and whacking the ones you don't. Besides, different stores have different business plans, and cater to different types of shoppers. Now, is Wegman's really coming to Bergen County? That would be cool, although your withering criticism of their food bar has probably already caused their managers to reconsider any such move.

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  2. Wegman's didn't start out as the pricey store it is today, the prices were actually quite reasonable. I frequented the store in Johnson City, NY just outside of Binghamton every now and then when I was up in the area back in the early 90s. I do love the store but I kind of resent what the store has become, which seems to have fallen outside of the original mission statement of the founder. About 5 years ago I had the Hot Chinese Bar up in Scranton and was pretty hungry and when the cashier rang up my plate it was nearly $20.

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  3. Ok so I will probably regret revealing this but I will not be the first. Brother WEASE has mentioned it more than once in the past: If you walk out without paying they are not going to come after you. They are too busy making sure their employees are obeying the rules. I know this for a fact since I have seen it done. Those who do are in obvious need of financial assistance so I am okay with it. But if you really think it too expensive don't pay for it. Danny's got deep pockets and much more prying priorities than picking your pocket over petty pennys.

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