North Shore Farms officially opened its doors in Whitestone Plaza on 10th Avenue last Friday morning. It is the eighth location for the Long Island-based store, but it's first location in Queens.
Residents have been waiting for a supermarket to open in the old Walbaum's since it closed in 2015, leaving local residents without a nearby option for buying groceries.
News broke that North Shore Farms would be moving into the space in October 2016, but the opening was continually pushed back due to extensive renovations.
“It's been a long path,” said company spokesperson George Tsiatis on Friday morning as store employees welcomed the first customers. “The biggest issue was the infrastructure of the old store was just too old. We had to change almost every wire and every piece of plumbing.”
The old Walbaum's space was also too large, and it took a CVS moving into half of the old supermarket to make the space suitable for North Shore Farms business model.
Residents were also concerned about the slightly higher prices at North Shore Farms. Some even started a petition requesting that the owner of the building not subdivide the space, which could rule out bringing in a larger and more budget-friendly supermarket.
But concerns of higher prices didn't keep shoppers from filling the store on opening weekend. And Tsiatis said North Shore Farms offers products to fit anyone's budget.
“We leave it up to the customer to decide what they want to pay up for, and what they want to save on,” he said.
North Shore Farms prides itself on its fresh produce, as well as its extensive deli and ready-to-eat foods. There is also an impressive seafood section run by an enthusiastic Captain Joe Catalano.
“It's not easy to put out a display of fresh fish everyday,” he said as he touted the fresh fish to his customers.
The store also plans to host events, including cooking demonstrations. On December 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Maria Zoitas, best known for the brand Made by Maria, will be signing copies of her cookbook “Made With Love.”