NEW YORK (September 18, 2017) - Broadway in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn gained notoriety as the most heavily damaged street in the city after the devastating 1977 blackout and ensuing looting. In the 40 years since, much has changed for the street in the shadow of the elevated train line, with the latest development being a new Foodtown Supermarket designed by Ruitenberg Lind Design Group (RLDG).
Hardly new to the neighborhood, storeowner Gary Schneiderman and his late father, Harold, have been operating an Associated Food Supermarket at the 1291 Broadway location since the early 1970s. The elder Schneiderman opened his first supermarket in the adjacent Bedford-Stuyvesant section in 1959.
"We have certainly seen many changes in Bushwick over the years and it was time to reinvest in the supermarket to better serve customer needs," said Schneiderman. "I had learned about Ruitenberg's work through Foodtown and was impressed by their design work at other stores. They have brought wonderful ideas to the table and have been an important part of our new store."
RLDG has designed successful stores for other Foodtown owners in the last couple of years, and Schneiderman knew that RLDG was the right choice to help realize his vision of an updated supermarket to address the changing demographics of Bushwick.
"We are bringing a more modern, industrial, and authentic design that connects with the feel of the neighborhood's history," said RLDG Chief Operations Officer Steve Hudes. "The look of the new store will resonate with the community and better reflect what they are looking for in a local supermarket. Gary has quite an extensive selection of organic and natural foods, so those will be particularly emphasized."
The new look for the store, which remains open during renovations, will include wood, brick, tile and stainless steel. Most of the security gates, long a staple of businesses along Broadway, will be eliminated and replaced by more inviting glass. Schneiderman hopes to complete the transition from Associated to Foodtown by the end of September.
During the 1977 blackout, looting started on Broadway minutes after the power outage began, according to media reports, with 124 stores ruined along a three-mile stretch of the major thoroughfare that divides Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant. The looting, rioting and fires caused extensive damage in an already impoverished area that would take decades to repair.
"We barely survived the '70s and '80s, we went through some hard times," said Schneiderman, 67, who served as President of the East Broadway Merchants Association for over a decade. "Our employees saved us, they went without raises for a few years because they knew we were hurting. The neighborhood used to be plagued by drugs and crime, but the city revitalization has changed the demographics. Bushwick is in transition."
Schneiderman has never been afraid to try something new and in the 1990s established a food court in the 13,000-square-foot supermarket, which includes franchises for Nathan's, Subway, Noble Roman's Pizza, Smoothie King and a deli. He owns all the food franchises within the supermarket.
"We have the only supermarket in New York State that is selling franchised food," said Schneiderman. "The food court has been very successful and will continue to be a major part of the new store. We look forward to introducing the community to Foodtown."
About Ruitenberg Lind Design Group (RLDG)
RLDG specializes in the planning, design, fabrication and installation of professional environments for supermarkets, malls, specialty retailers, restaurants, hotels and health care facilities. The company is located in Jamesburg, N.J. and works on projects worldwide. For more information, please visit www.beststoredesign.com or call (732) 474-1000.