It’s small – not the size of a football field – with creaky wooden floors and narrow aisles. If you’re browsing one of those aisles with your cart and someone’s stocking the shelves and another shopper pushing a cart comes along – well, three is a crowd.
What this store may lack in floor space it makes up for in content, personality and personable service.
Welcome to the Syracuse Real Food Co-Op.
The co-op, located in a residential area two blocks off Westcott Street, in the outer Syracuse University neighborhood, is a largely organic and locally focused grocery store owned by its members. It’s committed to community and community buying power. “Owners” make a one-time investment of $100, and the public is invited to shop there, as well.
I hadn’t been to the Co-Op in more than a year, but a recent LivingSocial deal (pay $10 for $20 worth of groceries/merchandise) provided the motivation I needed to get over there.
I happily wandered the aisles and went away impressed by the produce department (which included some local items, like Oswego County onions, even in the dead of winter), the selection of local breads (great selection featuring Heidelberg Bakery, Pasta’s Daily Bread and Patisserie, among others) and local/regional cheeses (Macadam, Cooperstown Cheese Co., Cabot, etc.)
The prepared foods area includes soups, sandwiches and some packaged entrees, and it would be easy to go to town in the bulk foods department, which stretches across the back section of the store and contains everything from grains and nuts to Mu Mu Muesli (an all-natural cereal made in Sharon Springs, Schoharie County).
The Syracuse Real Food Co-Op made the news in 2010 when its hoped-for move to bigger digs on East Genesee Street was turned down by the Syracuse Board of Zoning Appeals.
We wish the Co-Op continued success on Kensington Road – its home since 1973 – until such time a move/expansion is possible. I’m determined to get there more often and encourage you to put it on your local food radar. It’s is a refreshingly real and honest shopping experience.
Don’t forget your re-usable shopping bag!
The Syracuse Real Food Co-Op is at 618 Kensington Road, off Westcott Street, in Syracuse. Hours are 8 a.m. 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Info: 315-472-1385.