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The Crown Market: Revamped, rejuvenated… reopened!

A major remodeling project breathes new life into a Hartford landmark

saladsoupWEST HARTFORD – Nearly three years after The Crown Market faced the very real possibility of shutting its doors for good, the landmark kosher food store at Bishop’s Corner in West Hartford is set to launch a Grand Reopening celebration.

Sunday, Jan. 22 will kick off an 18-day-long event for the supermarket with food samplings, giveaways, and special sales that promise something for everyone.

The grand reopening comes on the eve of The Crown’s 77th anniversary, a run that has seen more ups than downs as the store has served the evolving needs of Greater Hartford’s Jewish community.

produce-4Founded in 1940 by Sam Smith, Sam Sowalsky, and Jack Sloat on Albany Avenue between Magnolia and Irving Streets in Hartford, Crown Supermarket was originally a group of concessionaires operating under one roof. The Albany Avenue store was expanded several times, but in 1967, with much of Hartford’s Jewish population having relocated to Bloomfield and West Hartford, the store moved to its current location at 2471 Albany Ave.

In February 2014, it appeared that the supermarket would be forced to close its doors. In response, a group of 49 investors, led by Jewish community leaders Henry M. Zachs, Alan Lazowski, Brian Newman, Ann Pava, Gayle Temkin, David Gelles, Andy Mandell and Bob Samuels, stepped up to the plate to save the beloved kosher supermarket. Their reason was simple:

front-with-registersThe Crown Market was so much more than just a supermarket. Over the years, it had come to be considered a warm and welcoming gathering place for the entire Jewish community.

Since that day, investors and store employees have worked to reinvent The Crown, visiting flagship kosher supermarkets in the New York Metro area for inspiration, talking with shoppers and community members to get feedback and suggestions, and renovating the entire store.

Last May, the Hartford Kashrut Commission (HKC) announced that Crown’s bakery, fresh meats and 5 O’Clock Shop were now under its kosher certification and supervision. As a result, all segments of the Jewish community are now able to purchase food at The Crown Market — as well as sit and enjoy a a meal or snack in the kosher supermarket’s comfortable new cafe.

And it was all accomplished while the doors stayed wide open to shoppers.

seating-area-good“We’ve been letting people know each new development along the way,” says investor Ann Pava of West Hartford. “Now, we’re done and it’s beautiful.”

Visitors will enjoy an entirely redesigned supermarket, says newly-appointed store manager Mike Hanson, who has been with the store for more than 17 years, from updated fixtures and layout to new sections dedicated to gluten-free and Israeli products, prepared-food bars, and a gourmet-cheese counter. A newly designed produce department offers organic items at the same prices as non-organic.

“Not only have we done renovations on the physical aspects of the store, but we’ve renovated and updated our menus,” says manager Roger Keroack who has been with the store for 15 years, has worked tirelessly throughout this process. “So you’re still going to see the ‘classic items’ that everyone loves, but you’re also going to start noticing items that are more innovative and healthier, as well as our seasonal items for High Holidays and Passover.”

5-oclock-shopPava sees the Jan. 22 celebration as an accomplishment for the entire Greater Hartford community.  “I think the most beautiful thing about this project is that so many have been working on it on a daily basis — not only in the store, but overseeing it on the internet,” she says.

Pava credits Henry Zachs for his leadership and dedication in turning The Crown around — as well as “every single employee” who have been “working like crazy, with smiles on their faces, to make this happen.” In addition to Mike and Roger, those dedicated employees include Michael Klein, Mark Seltzer, Wilmer Roman , Aaron Binder, Mona Dhanaj, Mark Winialski and Matty Arsenault who have been a part of The Crown Market family for 60 years collectively.

As for Zachs, he points out that none of it would have been possible without “the diligent help of Alan Lazowski, and Brian Newman and Andy Mandell who watch our daily sales and costs as well as every financial statement.”

The grand reopening marks a significant milestone for The Crown Market and the entire community at large.

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