I didn’t know I loved supermarkets until I moved to Rome and there weren’t any—or at least not any good ones.
Sure, I couldn’t swing a salami without hitting an alfresco produce market, a fourth-generation butcher, an artisanal cheesemonger or some other vestige of Old World grocery-ing. But I missed those bright, clean, wide aisles; those organized shelves stocking 27 kinds of everything; those 50,000 square feet of food and the possibility they promised. I missed the free samples.
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Shortly after I moved back to Manhattan, though, I learned that A&P, whose holdings included The Food Emporium and Pathmark, would soon shutter. Then Fairway, a beloved local institution, filed for bankruptcy in the spring, followed by the announcement that another NYC-based chain, D’Agostino, was putting itself up for sale. Out west, Washington-based grocer Haggen announced it was closing 127 stores last year, most of them locations the company had acquired from Albertsons and Safeway, following their recent merger.