Yesterday, the New York Post reported that Fairway, a beloved New York City grocery chain, is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. According to the Post, Fairway would be closing all 14 locations, after trying to find a buyer since it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2016. The chain, known for its cheap and plentiful cheeses, meat rooms you need a coat to enter, and charmingly meandering aisles, has its fair share of stans, who are all horribly upset.
I remember Red Hook before Fairway, but more acutely remember Red Hook after Sandy, when Fairway was closed for months. This is bad, and I feel terrible for the hardworking staff. https://t.co/G7QzzekZsZ via @nypost— Sam Sifton (@SamSifton) January 22, 2020
Fairway is closing all of its stores. The Upper West Side is in mourning. https://t.co/9kGerTCaOF— Jeremiah Moss (@jeremoss) January 22, 2020
However, Fairway’s fate is still up in the air. The chain refuted the Post’s reporting, and tweeted that it’s not going anywhere. “Fairway Market has no intention to file for chapter 7 or liquidate all of its stores,” it wrote. But the chain has had financial woes for a while, and fans are also pointing to the source of the chain’s problems: private equity that tried to turn a perfectly successful local chain into a suburban behemoth, and saddled the company with unsurmountable debt in the process. Recently, the bougie food emporium Dean & DeLuca faced a similar fate after being bought by real estate firm Pace Development, which had “plans for an aggressive expansion into affluent international mixed-use developments and a possible IPO.”
In quiet awe of the private equity guys who managed to turn a handful of beloved and heavily trafficked supermarkets in the richest parts of the richest city on earth and somehow make them bankrupt and 175 million dollars in debt https://t.co/9HZrNH5NsG— Tom Gara (@tomgara) January 22, 2020
Like any cult favorite grocery store, it’s not that Fairway provides much that can’t be found elsewhere. Sure, its olive oil selection and coffee bins are fantastic, but the true draw of Fairway is that in an increasingly monocultural world, it is something that still feels local. It is something that could be a sustainable, healthy business at 14 stores. But the drive to turn everything good on a small scale into a national chain that has to rake in billions of dollars to survive feels like an ongoing gutting of culture at the hands of greedy executives. Can’t wait to get all my groceries at TraderDisneyChasePepsi.