3:36pm

Wed January 16, 2013
Regional Coverage

New grocery store ends food desert

A food desert on Syracuse's north side is no more.  The grand opening of a TOPS Grocery store means a place to shop in one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods.

It was early summer when a Wegmans supermarket, that had been a mainstay on Pond Street for more than 40 years, closed.

At this weeks opening, TOPS President Frank Curci credited cooperation between the community and the city of Syracuse for the fast action. And the new store couldn't come soon enough for this neighborhood, which has struggled in the last several months without a full-service grocery.

Resident Pat Body spearheaded a community drive to get a store back in the neighborhood that includes many seniors, as well as immigrants.

"There's a lot of convenient stores that don't have fresh produce. This was the only store we were also depending on for medication," said Body.

And new manager Richard Hill says the TOPS store will reflect that.

"We expanded the ethnic sections, so for example we have a six-foot Jamaican section.  We're basically trying to cater to the demographics of this community."

The city of Syracuse worked with the grocery store and developers to get a store in a part of the city that was called a food desert, because a lack of availability of fresh food. The new north side Tops will also include a community room available to neighbors.