Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Pesach shopping in the best of times is labor intensive. Now it’s complicated as well. Go to the store and face restrictions on entering? Get a delivery and hope you get your complete order? We are fortunate to have several general and kosher supermarkets in our area and they’re trying the best they can to provide supplies under difficult conditions.

Yitzy Elbaum, director of culinary operations for Grand & Essex in Teaneck said that the day the RCBC issued its directive to people to stay home, Grand & Essex held an internal meeting with the goal of determining how to focus on serving the community. To begin, they ramped up online ordering, which had already been increasing. “We’re figuring it out and adjusting day by day,” said Elbaum, “trying to fill as many orders as we can. We’re impressed with how customers have been listening, and not showing up with their families. They’re appreciative and understanding when we run out of stock.” It’s been a learning process, he said, and things are smoother now that they have hired more staff and drivers. He suggests making fewer but larger orders.

While the store has more than doubled, and in some cases tripled their capacity for certain products, some people are shopping for more than they need, which leads to shortages. People are stocking up their freezers, which makes it hard for vendors to keep up. The store is limiting the amount of some household basics you can buy at one time.

Grand & Essex has put in place restrictions for in-store shopping in coordination with authorities. Only 50 people are allowed in the store at a time, although Elbaum said he hasn’t seen that number. Most people are ordering online.

In order to ensure that everyone gets their complete order of prepared Passover food, Grand & Essex has stopped taking new orders. “No one wants to hear erev Pesach that something they ordered is not available,” said Elbaum. There will be prepared food at the deli counter on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Pesach.

“We’re doing our best to serve the entire community as fast as possible,” said Dani Secemski, owner and manager of Glatt Express. Glatt Express has also adjusted to the demands of the times by increasing staff, doing its best to keep shelves stocked, and increasing delivery capacity.

Cedar Market is now limiting entrance to 25 customers at a time, for 20 minutes, and is providing hand sanitizers and gloves throughout the store. While there is no dedicated online ordering system, you can email your list to have an ordered delivered.

ShopRite of Englewood does not have a delivery service, but ShopRite items are available via InstaCart. It has instituted a shopping hour reserved for anyone over 60 or in another high-risk category from 11 a.m.-noon.

This Pesach, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try, you’ll get what you need.

By Bracha Schwartz