Progressive Grocer

15 Outstanding Independents That Dare to Stand Apart – Progressive Grocer

Edith’s Eatery & Grocery
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Beginning life as a pop-up shop in the summer of 2020 with an investment of just $8,000, Edith’s Eatery & Grocery has now grown into a new flagship location, on 312 Leonard Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., that carries hard-to-find grocery items, a full dining menu featuring innovative versions of classic Jewish dishes, and a robust house-made program, highlighted throughout the menu and the deli case, and featuring such items as smoked fish, breads and pickles.

Initially supposed to last just eight weeks, the pop-up immediately went viral, enabling Edith’s to become a permanent jewel-size fast-casual sandwich shop in Williamsburg, attracting diners from near and far. The retailer’s latest iteration, which officially opened Jan. 18, following a soft opening on Jan. 11, promises “an entirely new kind of grocery shopping and dining experience — one that you’re encouraged to both explore in store and take home with you.” Edith’s likens the ambiance to that of legendary New York City deli Zabar’s.

Edith’s founder/CEO Elyssa Heller, who once created supply chain solutions for brands such as Milk Bar and Dylan’s Candy Bar, offers food influenced by the Jewish diaspora, exploring the global flavors and cultural experience of Jewish cuisine.

“After spending 10 years on the consumer side of the food industry working with different CPG brands, I always wanted to give the restaurant industry a try,” Heller tells Progressive Grocer. “I felt like there was room for my point of view within the Jewish food space and wanted to try it out on a small scale with the pop-up to see how my concepts around Jewish food would resonate with guests. On the first day of the pop-up, we opened to two-and-a-half-hour lines down the block, and since then, I’ve never looked back.”

The store started off with an all-day café menu, with dinner offered later this spring. Dishes include Malawach, laminated Yemenite Jewish flatbread; Kasha Porridge, a buckwheat oatmeal with seasonal fruit and nuts; Syrniki Pancakes, traditional Russian-style pancakes with a Japanese soufflé, tart currant syrup and smetana (sour cream); Labneh Parfait with Chickpea Granola, consisting of tangy yogurt with seasonal fruit, house-made crunchy chickpea granola and ancient Middle Eastern honey; Chicken consommé containing mini matzo balls, vegetables and bitter herb; and a Smoked Fish Plate featuring a trio of seasonal house-smoked fishes: salmon, Arctic char and whitefish dip. According to Heller, who develops the recipes with Edith’s team of chefs, “The core menu will stay the same, while we will rotate seasonal specials.”

Meanwhile, Edith’s grocery offering turns the spotlight on Jewish food staples, including traditional appetizers as well as unique assorted treats, complemented by historical information inspiring guests to try new ingredients and learn about their history. The store will also carry such exclusive products as Emmett’s Frozen Tavern Pies and collaborative items with Pierozek Pierogi, Petee’s Pie (Tahini Chess Pie) and La Boite (Everything Spice). Noting that Edith’s is “showcasing people who may not have the infrastructure to sell to traditional grocery stores, but who make amazing food that is rooted in tradition,” Heller promises more brand partnerships in the works that will roll out seasonally.

The flagship store is just the beginning of the story, however.

“We are putting a plan in place for what the future of Edith’s could look like now that we have found success in multiple formats — our flagship-style restaurant-retail hybrid, as well as fast casual,” says Heller. “Tradition with a twist is what makes Edith’s special, along with the emphasis on food quality and our story. This time last year, we were a team of three cooking on a folding table at our pop-up in the back of Paulie Gee’s pizzeria; now we have a team of over 20 and two locations. The fact that we have been able to do this during a pandemic has me really excited for what the future holds for Edith’s.”