BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The new 87,500-square-foot Wegmans supermarket at Astor Place and Eighth Street will open on Wed., Oct. 18, at 9 a.m.
More than 600 freshly hired employees will keep the big food hub humming.
Store manager Matt Dailor is enthusiastic about his new job. He most recently managed the chain’s Harrison, N.Y., store, near White Plains.
“You talk about what makes it exciting — it’s New York [City],” he said.
Dailor has 30 years under his belt working for Wegmans — he started at age 15 — and like many of its veteran employees, is loyal to the company.
“I started out parking carts at [the Wegmans in] Rochester,” he noted. “I met my wife at Wegmans.”
There is a “Wegmans cheer,” which Dailor said shoppers might hear the morning of opening day.
Executive Chef David Lopatynski has eight years with the company.
“It’s going to be some of the best seafood in the world. We’re actually bringing in a fish-cutter from Tsukiji,” he said, referring to the famed fish market in Tokyo, Japan.
Dailor added that Wegmans will “bring product in from all over the world,” and not just fish. They age their own cheese in what he called “cheese caves.”
Another speciality of the chain is its sourdough bread.
“You just want to tear into it with some of our French salted butter — boy!” he said.
Unlike, say, Whole Foods Market, there won’t be a self-serve salad bar. Instead, there will be fresh prepared salads — plus made-to-order sandwiches and Mediterranean-influenced bowls — in an area of the store called Marché. A self-serve section will sport hot soup, chicken wings and hot Asian food.
“I personally love our Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie,” he added. “I think it’s one of the best things in the store. It’s one of our most popular products.”
They will be opening an in-store restaurant next spring or summer, featuring freshly made sushi rolls and an oyster bar, with seating for 40 to 60 people, though that number could change, the manager noted.
The store will have a beer shop featuring craft varieties.
Speaking of self-service, the store — which is nonunion — will mostly be self-checkout. There will be 31 self-service checkout spots with up to seven staffed cash registers. But, like at other markets, like Fairway, there will be shopper assistants to help customers, if needed, as they ring up their items. Dailor said self-checkout is “less friction” than the traditional cashier method.
Wegmans also works with food banks.
“Making a difference is a big value for us,” the store manager noted. “That’s a big thing for us — dealing with food insecurity.”
However, the store won’t be open 24 hours — unlike beloved longtime community standby Morton Williams supermarket, at Bleecker Street and LaGuardia Place. Hours will be seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., closed on Christmas and closed early on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
In addition, Wegmans sports a system of marking its proprietary products with small symbols to help shoppers identify healthy foods. There are 12 tiny icons in all — from “LS” for low sodium and a heart for heart healthy to a circled “G” for gluten free and a green leaf for organic, plus others for vegan or lactose free. A yellow banner on the product label indicates no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
There’s also a Wegmans app that allows customers to “build your shopping list,” then guides them to the right aisles. The app also has digital coupons and suggests similar products shoppers might like.