The future site of the Hana Food Corp. organic grocery store on Wyckoff Avenue. — Photo by Diego Cupolo
For the last decade, it seems like the fertile retail grounds around L train stops have been consistently sprouting organic grocery stores: Montrose has Khim’s Millennium Market, Morgan has Brooklyn’s Natural, and soon Jefferson will have Hana Food Corp. The new store will expand Bushwick’s upscale bodega sector, serving similar products as its competitors at similar prices, but Hana Food will have the upper hand at the deli counter — apparently, their Williamsburg location serves unbeatable sandwiches.
Owner James Lee originally opened the first Hana Food near the Lorimer L stop on Metropolitan Avenue about six years ago. The store proved profitable and now Lee is following the eastward migration of his clientele to the Jefferson stop, where he hopes to open his second store and a wine shop in the Wyckoff Exchange building by the end of the year. (He said the DoB has been very slow in pushing along paperwork.)
“It’s going to be very similar to the store on Metropolitan Avenue,” Lee said. “I just hope it goes well because I don’t see as many people walking around Wyckoff Avenue as I see on Metropolitan.”
If the new store is anything like its counterpart it should make for a welcome addition to our limited local grocery options. Many will complain about the high prices that usually come with organic/health food stores, but the Hana in Williamsburg has very reasonable prices for yogurt, pesto, and tofu, and sells good cous cous for much less than Food Bazaar. They also carry a wide variety of beers and, amazingly, put price labels on every bottle and can… a lost art in Brooklyn.
A main staple at the Williamsburg location is their extensive sandwich menu which is full of bizarre names like the “Crazy Bitch,” “Monkey Ass,” and the new triple-decker tribute special “M.J. Forever.” Hoagie and wrap prices are a bit steep at $7-$10 a pop, but vegans will be happy to see their long list of animal-free options.
I also counted seven different brands of peanut butter in the Metropolitan store and found exotic items like sweet ginger candies and shrimp-flavored crackers. Most importantly, Hana offers free delivery and is open 24 hours a day, something that Lee hopes to do in the new location if he gets enough late night business.
“My plan is to open the store and feel out the neighborhood,” Lee said. “I would like it to be open 24 hours a day but I have to see how many customers will come in at night first.”