Thanks to DCist, I was early for the ribbon cutting of the new Harris Teeter in Northeast today. At the corner of 1st and M, the store finally opened to a crowd of locals, commuters, and community-minded DC residents.
At 5:30, the ribbon was cut and speeches were given. Emphasis was placed on location: the ease of walking, biking, or Metro-ing here. The ANC Commissioner was there, the principal of Walker Jones Elementary (where Harris Teeter had made a sizable “community partnership” donation before opening) was there, Tommy Wells was supposed to be there. Other people were there. Hungry people. And thirsty.
I wandered away from the cameras and speakers to the real draw: the food. Sample-wise, it on par with an excellent day at CostCo. I had thimbles of Prosecco, various wines and beers and little cups and plates of cheese, sweet stuffed peppers, homemade bread with tapenade, tilapia and salmon, chips and salsa, chocolate mousse, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, on and on!
The aisles were full of happy people, just excited to be there and excited about the number of samples. I only witnessed one unfriendly interaction–Lady A expressed her disgust that Man B had (probably inadvertently) stepped in line in front of Lady C’s immobile scooter. Otherwise, people seemed happy to be in the store with all the samples and happy that Harris Teeter was finally open. Did I mention the chocolate fountain?
The store is bright and shiny, completely new and unsoiled by day-to-day wear. As I stood eating some 10 year old cheddar, I noticed a package of sliced pepperoni be jostled from its basket display to the ground. As it lay there, I thought, this is the beginning of the end. Seeing the store as it just opened its doors to the public was like seeing a baby smile…before that baby screams on the Metro all the way to Medical Center. But it was a beautiful beginning!
I hadn’t thought of it before, but New York Ave is a bit of a food desert. Healthy and fresh food is scarce; fried fish and cheeseburgers are plentiful. And delicious. The main problem with combating food deserts is making healthy and fresh food affordable in the short run. And I think Harris Teeter will do alright here. The prices are reasonable, the quality is high, the variety is immense.
There are options for pre-made foods (sushi, salad bar, deli, uncooked pizza) to make at home, as well as everything else a grocery store should carry. Olive bar? Check. Beer selection rivaling Whole Foods? Ping pong balls strategically placed at the end of the beer aisle? Check and check.
As the chocolate fountain lady told me, “It’s almost better than Wegmans.” Gasp!