Friday, March 25, 2011

Introducing Bob & Betty's

Tony Fisher's supermarket is a venerable local institution, something Nostrand Park's Abeni Garrett explored in a fabulous post earlier this week (if you haven't been reading NP regularly - for shame! - Abeni has been tearing it up on Franklin recently, with another great post about the new Chavella's last week. Also her photos are always fantastic.). Founded by Tony's parents, Bob and Betty, in 1981 (the Fishers already owned two other supermarkets in the area, where they had begun selling groceries in the mid-1970s), Fisher's has been a constant on the Avenue ever since. The success and longevity of the institution, as Tony will tell you, rests on an unswerving commitment to serving customers, one that he inherited from his folks (I realize it's good journalist practice to call someone by their last name, but really, does anyone know Tony as anything but Tony?). When, in my first month living on Franklin, I asked Tony if he had any black pepper, he introduced himself, asked whether I wanted whole peppercorns or ground pepper, and promised to have it for me the following day, which he did. This was not a unique experience - it's Fishers' operating principle. As NP noted, this commitment has run deep, "from stocking a variety of “ethnic” foods – from the Caribbean, Africa and various Latin countries – to delivering food to their elderly or immobile customers or extending credit to families they knew were in need."

Tony is an unabashed booster for the Avenue, singing the praises of the new merchants in the area and encouraging others to do their business on Franklin. Across the street, he's encouraged owner of the fried chicken place to renovate - they'll still serve chicken, albeit with a bigger deli and a grocery section. Thus, when the time came to renovate Fisher's, Tony went all out, completing gutting and re-imagining his store with huge new windows, low-energy lighting and refrigeration (supplied with power from a rooftop wind turbine), a wide-open layout, and his Brooklyn-pride commitment to buying locally. Citing NP again, Tony's new supermarket will be working only with vendors in a 50-mile radius to cut down on additional food mileage, and he's reached out to farmers in the same region to supply his produce. He's also keeping an eye on the pricing - while committing to environmentally-friendly practices and stocking organics, Tony plans to keep carrying the affordable staples that people expect from him, which, as he notes, he can afford to do because unlike other Avenue merchants, he owns the building, and isn't subject to rising rents.

When I mentioned Fisher's new store in a post a few weeks back, I called it "refurbished." Tony wasn't a fan - to him, he said, "refurbished" sounded like a new seat cover in an old car. What we've got here is an beautiful, brand-new supermarket, one called "Bob and Betty's" in honor of Tony's parents (logo above), who founded Fisher's and built it into the Crown Heights institution it is today. For Tony, the reincarnated Fisher's pays homage to his parents, and their customer-first values that made the original a success.

6 comments:

  1. When does it open? The only thing I ever bought there was moldy lettuce, and I couldn't bring myself back to tell him. I hope fresh lettuce will be a new feature! Tony was very nice when I was there, and always says hello on the street. The supermarket on St Mark's between Franklin and Classon is open now, and it's quite shiny, I haven't been in yet.

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  2. People seem to really like the new Compare Supermarket:

    http://brooklynian.com/forum/crown-heights-and-prospect-lefferts-gardens/anyone-know-when-the-new-compare-foods-supermarket-on-st-marks-and-classon-openi/page/3#post-727210

    ...and are simultaneously rooting for Tony's adaptations to the changing marketplace to work:

    http://brooklynian.com/forum/crown-heights-and-prospect-lefferts-gardens/fishers-and-thecoffee-shop

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  3. Is Tony the dude that was hatin' on Bruekelen cafe? Making fun of their "organic" items and what not? Because if he is, he is not cool in my book.

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  4. Fisher's had that sign on their door that said "Hipster rejoice! PBR inside" or something like that. This Tony guy sounds HILARIOUS and just from that I like him a lot. As a hipster, I can laugh at such things because I'm ironic. I think Pulp and Bean also had a similar sign but about organic coffee. :]

    I can't wait to see the prices of this new stuff though, because organic and affordable is very rare. Ughhhhh I just want cheap food!! Organic tends to be such a scaaaaam.

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  5. Tony is the man ! My Kids Cian and Ethan love Him

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  6. Ugh, Nostrand Park --- Nick, please don't do that to your readers! We can make our own decisions about what blogs are worthy.

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