Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A&P - Western Beef

The photo above (courtesy of Dave over at the Pleasant Family Shopping Blog) shows the A&P supermarket that was built at 103 Woodfield Rd, shortly after it opened in 1968.  In 1965, the owners of the home and flower shop on that property, Emil and Sophie Baumgartner, began proceedings to have their lot rezoned from residential to business to develop a supermarket and mini-strip mall at the location.  Despite some opposition from neighbors, given the fact that the property was flanked on either side by commercial businesses (on the north by the Hempstead Seed Co. and on the south by the Nassau County Mental Health Assn. rehabilitation center), the TOH granted the request and shortly thereafter ground was broken on the development.  At the same time, the Baumgartners had their home moved further south so that it would front Cedar Street while they continued to run their flower shop for a while in the new strip mall.  

Throughout the '60s, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (a.k.a. A&P) embarked on a strategy to stem the tide of its slow decline as a supermarket chain.  The company faced stiff competition from newer and bigger stores that left most of the existing A&P chains feeling small and dated.  Part of this strategy was a blitz of new "centennial stores" to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company, where the buildings would be designed in the "early American style".  The West Hempstead A&P was opened in 1968 (photo depicted above.  The photo shows a checkout attendant helping a lady load her bags into what looks like a new '67 or '68 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon, the way they used to do it in the "old days").

Sometime in the mid '90s, A&P vacated the location and it was taken over by Western Beef.  Below is a "now" shot, taken roughly at the same angle as the photo above, showing the monstrous Western Beef sign that just about obscures any vestige of the building's original architectural features. (Note the iron fence along the roof is still there).

Over the years, the adjacent mini-strip mall has seen many tenants come and go. However, one of them, Fel's Hair Creations, has been in business at that location for forty years, since almost the beginning of the mall's inception. 

Comparing the then and now shots below, the old triangular pediment from the original design still peeks out above the new sign, as well as the original cupola and weather vane.

To me, shopping today at this Western Beef has kind of a retro feel to it, since very little changes have been made to modernize the interior, and I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but they always seem to pipe through what sounds like Greatest Hits of the 70s over the store loudspeakers.  I almost feel like I'm in a time warp over there, bargain hunting for food deals with my mom, pushing a half-broken shopping cart with wheels that never seem to all roll in the same direction.  Western Beef also plays host to the "Pickle People", an old West Hempstead business held over from the old Shoppers Village days back in the 80s.  


Anonymous said...

You can't just say "Pickle People" and then not deliver.

Jacob said...


Pickle People deserves its own separate post.

Richard Schrader said...

Great blog. I worked at the A+P on Woodfield Rd. from June 1967 to June '68, so it must have opened sometime in early 1967. There was another, smaller A+P store on Hempstead Turnpike across from S. Klein's in the late '60s as well.

Matt said...

WB has now abandoned the location and moved to a larger site just north of Lakeview RR Station. Opened as of May 2014.