With Shawangunk and Catskill vistas revealed around every bend in its meandering country roads, and lush orchards and fertile alluvial cornfields sprawling in every direction, Stone Ridge is an alluringly lovely place to live. But such rural beauty has its down side: being inconveniently equidistant from such necessary evils of modern life as large chain stores.
For the past couple of decades, residents of the hamlet have relied on Emmanuel’s Marketplace to supply their grocery needs. Located at 3853 Main Street (Route 209) on the south side of town, about half a mile before Route 213 turns east towards High Falls, it’s the anchor store in the Stone Ridge Towne Centre, a mini-mall that also includes a bank, a drugstore, a pizzeria, a Chinese restaurant, a donut shop, a liquor store, a florist and, right next door, a pet shop called Emmanuel’s Pet Agree. The complex is an odd nugget of suburban slickness on the outer edge of a tightly clustered village dotted with historic stone buildings, but it serves an important purpose for locals and weekenders, saving them long car trips into bigger towns like Kingston for staples.
Like a certain time-traveling doctor’s phone box, Emmanuel’s is bigger on the inside than it looks from the road, and given its remoteness, the goods it offers are surprising in their high quality, freshness and variety. Longtime owner Emmanuel Gerondaras has always emphasized locally sourced products, and second-homeowners used to the diversity of New York City food markets have had little reason for disappointment when they shop there.
So, it is with some trepidation that residents have been responding on social media to the news that Gerondaras has moved on, and Emmanuel’s – as well as the adjoining pet shop – has had a change of ownership, effective June 7. It’ll retain its name at least until renovations are completed in 2020, and new owner Albert Rodriguez wants to reassure anyone nervous about the change that the supermarket’s level of quality will be maintained, along with all its current employees. “It’s still Emmanuel’s for now. Eventually it’s going to change to My Town Marketplace after we do a remodel, early next year,” Rodriguez says. “Everybody stayed.”
If the name My Town rings a bell, it’s because Rodriguez and his wife Lisa Berrios already run two groceries under that name, one of them nearby. The Newburgh-based couple opened the first My Town Marketplace in Highland Falls in 2011, and took over and radically spruced up the former Associated Supermarket in the Fann’s Plaza on Route 32 in Rosendale in 2014.
“Nothing’s going to really change much,” says Rodriguez of Emmanuel’s, whose layout and selection he already admired. “They have a great perimeter of the story: produce, bakery, meats. They did a good job.” He also notes that both stores “use a lot of the same suppliers,” so regular customers should find the same breadth of product choices to which they’re accustomed. Rodriguez plays down the disparity in demographics between mostly working-class Rosendalers and the more upscale population of Stone Ridge, with its higher concentration of second homes: “People are people. They still want a nice clean place to go to. They still deserve the best service. The most important thing is to treat people right.”
The renovations that he has in mind won’t be radical, and Rodriguez hopes to accomplish the work during the overnight hours, instead of closing the entire store for a block of time. “Updated refrigeration and lighting” are his priorities, he says, along with a wish to “freshen up the look,” especially in the point-of-sale area around the checkouts. Having successfully brought a selection of craft beers and local microbrews to his Rosendale store for the first time, he’s pondering one true innovation to Emmanuel’s that will please beer-lovers: “Maybe doing a growler station.”
But mostly, Rodriguez hopes to retain the same clientele who have been relying on the Stone Ridge supermarket for some 20 years now. “For all the reasons you wanted to go there, you’ll still want to go there,” he promises. For updates on the “new Emmanuel’s,” visit www.mytown-marketplace.com.