Wegmans: Prepared foods out the wazoo

Stationery aisle at the new Wegmans

The one quiet place in all of Wegmans today: The greeting cards/stationery aisle.

If you've ever been to the Roche Bros. in West Roxbury, you know they have a pretty impressive selection of ready-to-go meals, cheeses and the like.

There's a new ready-to-go supermarket in town, and it makes Roche Bros. and the newish Star Market in Chestnut Hill, which has its own food-to-go area, look like little delis. Take what you're used to at those stores and triple their size and you've got the Wegmans on Rte. 9, which opened today where the Omni Foods used to be.

At least when we went this afternoon, the predictions of gridlock on Rte. 9 proved overblown and we quickly found a space in the garage behind the store (pleasant shock: Drivers of SUVs were actually taking just one space each, unlike in the old Atrium parking garage).

We walked into the store and it was like, boom, Oh. My. God! Partly because the place was crowded like Kenmore Square after a Sox game, partly because the non-essential food just went on and on and on. And on.

Stuff

Here a salad bar, there a "summer salad" bar, both sitting in front of an Asian food bar and a fried-chicken bar, all nestled between counters serving 152 (or so it seemed) types of pizza and various hot things you could get made into meals while you watch, a bakery, a counter offering freshly chopped fruits and counters for prepared and raw seafood, the later of which had a giant slab of swordfish on one side and an eye-less tuna on the other.

Tuna

Walk past all that and you ran into the seemingly endless olive bar.

Olives

And the trail-mix bar. And the cheese counter featuring cheese grown in Wegmans own cheese caves. Of course Wegmans has its own cheese caves.

Cheese

And, God, the Greek yogurt. Apparently, every last person in Greece now has his or her own brand of Greek yogurt - and Wegmans has them all, just daring you not to buy them, as they sit under a large-scale model train whirring about up where normal supermarkets would have a ceiling (nice local touch: The train has a Boston and Maine loco).

Once past the trail-mix bar and the Rhode-Island sized Greek yogurt area, you get to the traditional supermarket stuff. Wegmans seemed to have plenty of that, so if you need to, you can stock up on just milk and bread, and I'm reasonably sure they have cream cheese, even if I couldn't find any. They also have a kosher section, if not quite as large as at the Chestnut Hill Star.

Frozen gefilte fish

Wegmans employees were everywhere, pushing lumbering carts of fresh prepared stuff to feed the ravenous hordes, flitting about the aisles, helping dazed consumers find what they need. This led to gridlock in the cereal aisle, where one guy was having trouble picking out just the right type of a particular cereal, Cheerios or something, and a helpful Wegmans employee got right in there with him trying to figure out just what it was he wanted. Meanwhile, other shoppers piled up on either side. Fortunately, before things got completely out of hand, a Newton woman of a certain age took decisive action: She rammed the confused cereal consumer with her cart, which got him to move, after which she murmured the world's most insincere "sorry" and was off, as were the rest of us.

All in all, kind of a cool thing, but we live too far away to make this our regular market - we'll probably stick to Roche Bros. and Shaw's, although maybe those times we're coming back from Framingham or some place like that (hey, it happens), we'd stop there.

On the way home, we swung through the Roche Bros. parking lot. Seemed as crowded as ever. It might've been interesting to drive to the Chestnut Hill Star Market, though.

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Comments

I don't have much experience

I don't have much experience with Wegman's, but the couple of times I've been to one in upstate NY, it was enormous and overwhelming. I wish I had one nearby to shop at more often, but, alas....

To me, the supermarket trifecta would be a TJs, Whole Foods, and Wegman's all on one corner. Though, this being New England, I would also accept the substitution of a Stop & Shop for one of those chains.

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I'm at the JP S&S a few times

I'm at the JP S&S a few times a month. If I lived a little closer, it'd be more. They're okay-- prices are decent but not fantastic. Same for the selection.

But MEATLAND across the street! Twenty pounds of hot dogs for $8.00? Why, yes!

There were no free samples :(

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There were no free samples :( What kind of an opening day at a grocery store IS that?!

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Village Market is fine for what it is

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And maybe if we lived closer, we'd shop there more often, but we're on the other side of Roslindale, almost in Hyde Park, so it's easier to get to the Hyde Park Shaw's. As for Roche Bros., sometimes that can be easier, too, given the traffic along Washington, but really, my wife and daughter like it more.

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Would love it

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If you re- review some of the local markets. I like the Roslindale a Stop and Shop but it's lacking in prepared foods and a fish dept.

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Wegman's Can't Make the Claim

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Wegman's can't make the claim that it has "the…most unique cheeses you'll find…"

No one can make that claim; there's no such thing as "most unique."

/buzzkill

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Careful trying to be a pedant

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They can have the most unique cheeses if most is describing the number of unique cheeses they have.

Yes, unique is an absolute term, but I don't think they're trying to say that their cheese collection is the "most one of a kind" cheese collection, but rather that their collection of unique cheeses is vast.

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Depends on your closed system

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If every cheese you sell is different than every other cheese that you sell (don't carry two brands of cheddar that are identical cheddar), then you could have a 100% unique selection. How many would be determined by how many types of cheeses there are in the world and how fine a detail you require in categorizing the uniqueness (is stilton different than roquefort or are they both just blue cheeses?).

They could be choosing to compare their cheeses to other stores and claiming that their selection is more unique (dare they say, the most unique) selection because all other stores sell 40 kinds of feta but no manchego.

Or they could be comparing to the world. If there are 4,000 varieties of cheese in the world known to man, then if they sell all 4,000 they would have the most unique cheeses possible.

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Missing one MAJOR component

They opted to put a "sandwich shop" in this location instead of the classic Old Fashioned Sub Shop Read: NO WEGMAN'S SUBS! It sounds small, but anyone who has had a Wegman's in their life (and half a brain) will tell you how amazing Wegman's subs are.

I'd rather drive to Northborough on principle.

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Can you elaborate. I was at

Can you elaborate. I was at the store today and although I didn't get one, the sub shop just seemed like a smaller version of the one in Northborough.

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Just different enough

According to the store manager in the sneak peak video on Youtube/BDC it uses different ingredients, bread and has different menu items than the normal sub shops. Also confirmed by a friend who went today that they don't have normal sub rolls.

I have no doubts the sandwiches will be great, but the lack of actual subs that are nothing short of legendary is a disservice to Boston. Hopefully they'll fix it fast, I know a few other native New Yorkers who have voiced their displeasure to them already.

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I did some more digging on

I did some more digging on twitter and apparently the smaller square footage didn't allow them the space to house the ovens necessary to bake the sub rolls. This is per their official twitter handle. Not sure how they can fix that without whacking one of their other services. Perhaps they could use the new Burlington/Westwood stores as a central bakery for the Chestnut Hill sub shop? I'm grasping I know.

FWIW, one of my friends - a Rochester native and Wegmans connoisseur - said the sandwich she got their was on a ciabatta bread and was delicious.

Hopefully this is something they can figure out. I actually liked the smaller store format. I found it more social and engaging then some of their monster stores.

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Heartbreak

As a Rochester ex-pat without a car, I was really excited to have Wegmans' subs within reasonable biking distance. This is a huge bummer. Thankfully, there is much else I love about Wegmans. So as long as they have some of my favorites from back home, I'll be OK. Fingers crossed for Zweigles white hots, proper kummelweck rolls and Chiavetta's marinade.

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world class city

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with this and the new H-Mart in central sq, i feel like were getting spoiled here.

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Roche Bros not losing traffic to Wegmans (yet)

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I've been gathering signatures at Roche Bros. daily for my run for a Suffolk County office since Thursday... Wegmans opened on Saturday... one of the most consistent places where shoppers who cannot sign for me come from is Brookline, with Newton a close second. I didn't see any drop-off in Brookline/Newton nor Dedham customers since Wegmans opened. I even asked some folks and they are waiting it out.

Of course, as Adam and other WR folks know, the Roche Bros in Westie skews very elderly so I get the strong sense that shoppers have their routines, schedules and support systems (rides, accompaniment, etc.) and aren't going to change quickly.

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Westie Roche Bros skews LOYAL!

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I remember as a kid being wheeled around on the bottom of the shopping cart (couldn't do that at Shop & Shop), and I look forward to my kid making me do the same.

If you shop there, it's tough to go somewhere else. Perhaps not a Wegman's fanaticism, but the loyalty is there.

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Must be nice

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for them to get all this exposure by the news outlets and bloggers for free!

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Traffic

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The fact that traffic was reasonable is a good sign for me.

I often take 9 home in the evening and stopping here is going to be really convenient for me...if I don't have to sit an hour trying to get into the lot, or past it on the other days.

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Traffic and Wegmans

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I agree - yesterday was not the s#$%show that I was expecting, HOWEVER, the real test will come this Tuesday on the evening commute.

The Red Sox are home and school vacation is over. Yesterday notwithstanding, I still think that Rt. 9 East is going to be more or less bumper to bumper from Hammond St. back past 128 from something like 4-7p (particularly if, as everyone has suggested here, Wegmans seems to be focused particularly strongly on the dinner meal/pre-made foods). I hope that I am wrong, but just in case, I will be taking every single shortcut I know to avoid it.

On a related note, I wish Wegmans the very best. I have been skeptical of their move into the more urban areas (CH and Fenway in particular) because working in a much smaller footprint is a big change to their otherwise well-crafted business model. It remains to be seen whether they can do it with the same success as they have in their big box base model(early indications are encouraging).

I do want to quibble with one thing however - all of these people from Ra-cha-cha and environs who now live around here referring to said environs as "upstate" New York. For this guy who grew up in the NYC area, where everything north of the Bronx was "upstate", even I make the distinction between upstate (Catskills, Albany, Adirondacks), "CNY" (a silly relatively recent attempt to distinguish the gray area) and Western New York. Rochester is definitely Western. Really, its an extension of the Midwest, which is, presumably, why you all live here now.

(the preceding paragraph brought to you with a Monday morning smirk/grin)

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Calling it upstate

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Rochesterians call it "upstate" because it satisfies their need to glom onto the Yankees instead of rooting for Toronto, Cleveland, or even Pittsburgh for some NL flair...all of which are closer than the house that Ruth didn't build any more.

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Pretty much

Everyone along the Thruway from the Utica area to Rochester calls it Upstate, maybe even a bit further in both directions. We generally use CNY locally and Upstate when talking to "outsiders"-usually because it allows us to avoid the "No, I'm not from THAT New York" conversation very easily. Also, the Adirondacks stretch just north of Utica, which would make part of them CNY by this logic.

The only people I ever seem to have this debate with are generally from Orange county or below.

(Also brought to you with a Monday morning smirk)

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Oh, yeah, Shaw's is toast.

Oh, yeah, Shaw's is toast. IMO, where S&S wins over Shaw's is that you can usually depend on the layouts being the same. Whereas with Shaw's, every single store is different. It drives me nuts.

I'm no expert on prices. To me Shaw's and S&S are about the same, and depending on store brands, one's better one week, one's better the next.

Fine, okay, more pricey groceries

I liked Wegman's in NY, and it's a good fit for Chesnut Hill, but I'm glad they are sticking to the upscale 'burbs (at least for now...) because grocery shopping in the city is getting stupid expensive. So many of the subway accessible markets have been gentrified to the point of being prohibitive for middle income or lower residents that I find myself on hunting forays at least once a month to get staples that are not laughably priced or require a cab to get home.

I want a Market Basket on the Orange Line, dammit!

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Green Line, coming soon!

The green line extension will come fairly close to the one in Somerville, with the spur to Union Square. GLX will also pass near Twin City Plaza and the large stores there.

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That's still really far

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That's still a walk from the proposed Union Square stop on the GLX. Especially for groceries.

The Silver Line is coming to Chelsea and will dead end right behind the Chelsea Market Basket. And the SLX/Gateway will open several years before the GLX will.

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Even the stalwartiest of the stalwart Roche shoppers ...

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During our visit yesterday, we had just turned the corner on an aisle when I saw this guy I thought I recognized. No, that couldn't be City Councilor Matt O'Malley, famously known for his start at Roche Bros. as a teen?

Turns out it probably was. He tweets:

Just back from my inaugural trip to Wegmans. @Roche_Bros will always be my #1, but @Wegmans certainly lived up to the hype.

Roche Bros. is relieved:

Hello to the new grocery kid on the block, but we're glad to be @MattOMalley 's first and local love.

Never again!

Just tried to shop there, tried and failed. Worst grocery experience in my life. Should have known by the 12 people directing traffic in the parking lot that the inside would be awful. Spent 20 minutes sandwiched between two elderly shoppers who refused to move. Was bumped 5 times by other people's carts. Prices were literally twice the already expensive Roche Bros. I finally walked out in disgust. And yes, I left my cart in the middle of the store -- not going to navigate my way out of that mess.

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Twice?

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Come on. Even Whole Paycheck isn't "twice" the price of other markets. Or if you didn't mean "literally" then don't say "literally."

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I call bullshit

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Prices were literally twice the already expensive Roche Bros.

Pics or it didn't happen.

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Ah! The Newton Carriage Aisle Block!

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Refined to a fine art at markets across the Garden City (particularly at the Beacon/Walnut WF)! Masters of this technique are also particularly adept at a similar offensive (in at least 2 senses of the word) maneuver in the parking lots of said markets (to which Adamg alluded earlier, i.e., taking up two perpendicular parking spaces with one vehicle - not always an SUV, either)

The key to both maneuvers is to create the appearance of not doing it intentionally (e.g., by leaving what looks like enough space to pass, and might be, but will almost certainly result in some incidental contact, at least in the context of carriages). The maneuver is designed solely to provide the Blocker with an opportunity to offer a dirty look or audible gripe when one passes or tries to pass.

For my part, I am particularly fond of making the pass from behind the Blocker, as they typically begin to spout off before noticing that my adorable infant/toddler is in my carriage. The look of embarrassment is priceless and pretty effectively makes them realize the idiocy of it all.

This is an interesting comment in another respect. In addition to my earlier post about Wegmans transitioning from its big box roots to a somewhat smaller footprint, I am curious as to how the local clientele will impact the friendly-Western-New-York attitude for which their employees are famous. What Wegmans has encountered in Northborough (in terms of clientele) is not representative of the more urban areas of the state into which they are moving.

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In response to Kaz and Sally

Tuna steaks on sale this week at roche Bros: $9.95 / lbs. At Wegman's today, $19.95 / lbs. No, I don't have pics, but those are indeed the comparison prices, which means that for at least one item, Wegman's was in fact twice as expensive.

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Hmm...

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I'd still have to see it. Last I checked, $10/lb is about half market price for sushi-grade yellowfin. Were they the same grade? The same tuna species?

On any given item on any given day (particularly when it's on sale or something volatile like seafood prices), I have no doubt that Roche Bros will be able to undercut Wegmans. However, if you're going to Roche Bros because it's reliably cheaper across the board, then I think you're doing it wrong.

Again--come on.

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Last week you could get a box of mangoes at Whole Foods for like a buck apiece. I wouldn't cherry pick (or mango pick?) that one item to claim that groceries at Stop and Shop are twice the price.

Market Basket

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. o O (So I don't need to tell you that it was 7.99 at Market Basket?) O o . . .

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How much did they expand the "Omni Foods" footprint?

When I was running lab supplies and sampling equipment between Longwood and suburban sites, I used to shop at the Omni since it was convenient.

I don't remember it being anywhere near that huge! At least, not before the horrific fire.

A friend of mine who works in that area went today and raved about it - although I bet it was a bit saner at mid-day on a Monday.

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I went to the old Omni Foods

I went to the old Omni Foods a few times (it was convenient when I was coming home from the Pike on Rt. 9, I could just turn in, shop, and then swoop down onto Hammond Pond Parkway,) and had the same thought. It was really small.