“One of the really big ironies of Queens is that so much wonderful food is produced here, but people can’t purchase it,” says Tonice Sgrignoli, co-owner of Good Neighbor Queens, a new artisanal grocery store in Long Island City. “It really is underserved in terms of fresh produce.”
Good Neighbor Queens is settling in on the ground floor of the Falchi Building, which brings together a number of vendors in what’s otherwise something of a food desert. (While you’re there, grab lunch from one of the other tenants, like curried goat from ReCaFo, or Thai chicken and rice from Khao Man Gai.)
Sgrignoli and Katrina Schultz Richter, who created the store together, are currently stocking the expansive and elegant space, as well as organizing CSA-style shares. Shoppers can expect organic fruits and vegetables, pastured meat, fresh fish, and dairy, as well as specialty items and cookware. Sgrignoli says they’re sourcing as much as they can locally, primarily from farms in the Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes region, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Their box share program is rolling out, beginning with fruit and vegetable shares (soon expanding to include fish and meat shares) as well as snack boxes. Sgrignoli says they’ll offer both family-size and solo boxes, a boon for singles who might otherwise struggle to use up everything in their share: “We’re figuring out ways to package things so that people can get what they want,” she says.
The idea for Good Neighbor Queens came about when Sgrignoli and Richter met through the Queens Harvest Co-Op, a buying club that Sgrignoli organized, which brings farm-fresh products to Queens residents. Richter is the founder of Queens County Market, a periodic showcase for independent food makers, and the two bonded over the challenges of overseeing pop-up events. It wasn’t unusual for customers to complain about the difficulty of getting fresh, organic food in their neighborhoods, and Sgrignoli and Richter felt compelled to open a brick-and-mortar store.
And “Good Neighbor” isn’t just a name: Sgrignoli and Richter envision the space as not only a grocery store but also an important community space, with classes, tastings, and demonstrations on everything from DIY sausage making to shucking oysters to interpreting food labels. Giving back to the neighborhood is part of the mission, Sgrignoli says: “We’re really excited to be doing this, and looking forward to getting to know the community more.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2015