The first modern supermarket opened in New York City in 1930 and from that grocery store’s inauspicious beginnings supermarkets have evolved into a multi-level, one-stop shopping and culinary experience.
Responding to an increasingly sophisticated shopper, today’s supermarkets offer diverse choices, from fresh-baked goods, on-site butcher services, gourmet heat-and-eat dinners, hot bars, sushi bars and a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals.
“We are always evolving our prepared food offerings,” says Zach Cohen, Director of Merchandising for Waverly Markets, owners of ShopRite stores in East Hartford/Glastonbury, Manchester and Vernon. “We do our best to take the legwork out of having to prepare something for dinner. Our customers are busier than ever and convenience is paramount for many.”
The rotisserie chicken was one of the first popular meal-to-go options (and remains so), but the ShopRite stores’ prepared food choices have evolved well beyond that. Expertly cooked filets of salmon with asparagus, racks of BBQ ribs, all types of pasta dishes, and more are all available to pick up on the way home from work.
Customers can pick out a fresh cut of meat or fish in the Meat and Seafood departments, many of which are already seasoned with high-quality rubs and marinades. Also present is an extremely diverse assortment of spices and international food items to cater across all cultures and traditions.
“We cut meat fresh every day in our stores. We also carry a variety of packaged meats, like local sausage from New Haven, and Bell & Evans chicken products. We're always steaming lobsters for our customers - We have full, robust scratch bakeries in our stores, fresh-cut fruit, sushi bars, made-to-order grinders and wraps, and hot bars with options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
ShopRite of Tri-City Plaza in Vernon opened in March of 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic, the Cohen Family's third store. It has a large food prep area where associates cut fresh fruit, bake specialty pastries, make thin crust pizzas, and more.
“Grocery stores are much more sophisticated in their offerings today and we’re very proud of our diverse gourmet-to-go options. We aim to take the guesswork out of dinnertime for busy families.” Zach says.
At Highland Park Market on Manchester Road, food shopping is less about stocking up on essentials and more about interacting with Highland Park’s food experts.
“We are an upscale, full-service grocery store and people who come here are coming, in part, for the experience,” says Timothy Devanney, whose family owns Highland Park. “With the majority of our perishables - meat, deli, bakery - there’s always a person on the other side of the counter who’s going to wait on you, get what you want, wrap it up and hand it to you. You can get cooking tips from our staff and tips on the best cuts of meats and seafood.
“All of our checkouts have baggers who carry your groceries out for you and load them into your car. Our customers want that personal connection and for some people coming here is a social experience as well.”
Highland Park operates markets in Glastonbury, Manchester and Farmington. Highland Park Market was established in 1886 and the Devanney family bought the market in the 1950s.
“We are the third generation of the third family to own Highland Park Market since it was established in 1886.”
Besides being a full grocery store that offers meat and seafood counters, fresh produce and delis, each of Highland Park’s three stores have kitchens on site where chefs create meals that are packaged as ready-to-eat or which can be cooked at home.
Devanney said Highland Park’s chefs have more than 300 original recipes that they’ve developed and which the stores sell, including long-time favorites such as shepherd’s pie, macaroni and cheese, and American chop suey. Other popular items include house-made salads, sushi and bakery items and a variety of daily lunch and soup specials.
The company also offers catering services and gift baskets.
Waverly Markets ShopRite Stores:
31 Main St., Putnam Plaza Shopping Center, East Hartford
Tri City Shopping Center, 35 Talcottville Road
214 Spencer St.
On Facebook: @shoprite.supermarket
Highland Park Markets:
1320 Manchester Road
317 Highland St.
204 Main St.
On Facebook: @HighlandParkMkt