Last week we reopened our flagship store on Atlantic Avenue. I cried when we pulled the gates up. I was so emotional and happy. In 70 years, we have had only a handful of unplanned closures and none lasted more than a few days. This closure lasted over 2 months and it felt wonderful to be interacting with the customers again. No longer faceless numbers on our delivery partners' tablet, but real people in the aisles. The look on our staff’s faces said it all. “Welcome back, customers and friends!”
All of us at Sahadi’s are proud of our staff for pulling together and making fulfillment of online orders possible. I think I am most proud of that fact that we managed to keep every staff member who wanted to stay on, scheduled through all of this. We were shuffling staff constantly between the warehouse and the two stores, but we were so happy to keep everyone employed. This meant sandwich makers were suddenly stocking, and stockers were ringing registers, and every single person was picking online orders, but we did it as a team and as part of the Sahadi’s family of businesses. Our people have become so much more versatile and valuable as a result. Now back to the business of hospitality.
With both stores open, we have also reopened all departments. At Industry City, the Saj station is back in action making a variety of sandwiches and bowls to order 7 days a week. The bakery is in full swing with pita, whole wheat pita and a variety of savory breads made daily. The bar is also opened to the socially distanced courtyard with house-made Sangrias and cocktail specials daily. Today’s mezcal (or virgin) fresh squeezed lemonade was terrific! Our customers are sitting in the sunny outdoor eating areas enjoying a salad or a bowl and sipping their wine and it’s an amazing sight — one that we were afraid we might not see again.
The produce section has all types of local and seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs as well as a few Middle Eastern specialties rarely seen in stores here. Purslane is in stock today, as are fresh green chick peas in pods. We have amazing local mushrooms, flowering coriander, fresh grape leaves and grey Lebanese squash. Fresh green almonds have made their first appearance and the scent of floral Persian lemons is in the air. Brooklyn Grange wild greens with flowers are gorgeous, and the local lavender bunches fill the air with their beautiful scent as well. It is a great feeling seeing the abundance of fresh foods after such a dreary spring. Like a breath of fresh air.
At Sahadi’s, we are hoping to get back to some kind of normal this summer. One thing that I took from this COVID experience is the value of spending time with family. We probably do that more than most since we live and work together! During this time both of my children joined Pat, Ron and I in business. Mike just finished law school and jumped right in as planned two days later. Cait was furloughed unexpectedly and immediately joined our management team. We are lucky to have them both. Ron’s wife Kerry also joined us after the school she worked at closed, and both of his daughters Victoria and Amanda have been seen picking orders and helping customers this season. They have all been a tremendous help, as well as a joy to work with! We are truly a family business, and our family and our team are so happy to be back.