North Shore Farms Opens North Bellmore Location
by Cindy Klimek
North Shore Farms, a family-run chain of gourmet markets servicing Long Island and Eastern Queens, celebrated recently the ribbon cutting of its North Bellmore location. This latest storefront, located at 2820 Jerusalem Avenue, marks the company’s sixth location since its inception in 2003 and its first on the south side of Long Island.
The ceremony began with a traditional Greek Orthodox Hagiasmos blessing by local priests. Says principal owner Niko Katopodis, “We always do a blessing. It’s a Greek tradition when you move into your house or your business to have it blessed.” Katopodis, who lives on Long Island with his wife Marilena and sons Angelo and Stelio, says that this adds to the family feel of the markets.
Aside from North Shore Farms’ owner and employees, the event was attended by Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Legislator Gary Hudes, Legislator Norma Gonsalves, representatives from the Bellmore and Nassau County Chambers of Commerce, and delegates from local organizations. Though the ribbon-cutting and accompanying fanfare would have been enough for many businesses, North Shore Farms turned its North Bellmore opening into a four-day affair.
“We’re excited to bring North Shore Farms to North Bellmore and Long Island’s South Shore,” says company representative George Tsiatis. “We appreciate the warm welcome of the community and the excitement that the neighborhood shares for the wide array of food options North Shore Farms provides.”
North Shore Farms’ motto is “Eat Well. Live Better” and it’s clear from the grand opening festivities that the market lives this mantra to the fullest. The New Bellmore location opened its doors to customers to a line that wrapped around the store. Locally hired employees echoed the enthusiasm by cheering as shoppers entered. Many customers left with reusable North Shore Farms totes.
Over the weekend, the celebration got even bigger. North Shore Farms had a local radio station on site to play music for guests and hand out prizes and giveaways. The market also provided free samples of some of its food items, cooking demonstration, and freebies from local vendors. Guests explored the fresh produce section and talked to the staff about freshly baked goods, the fresh seafood and meat selections, the seemingly limitless supply of cheese (over 400 varieties), and the aisles of ready-to-eat prepared foods. The market also carries most Greek products available in the United States and a line of Greek pastries.
Katopodis says North Shore Farms always likes to throw a huge grand opening for its stores because, “it creates more of a welcoming event for the people. It’s a sign of appreciation.”
He adds, “We consider ourselves a fresh market. You come in, you feel like you are in a fruit stand. You go to your butcher, there’s a guy there to serve you. You go to the prepared food and the cheese and it’s like your own kitchen. That’s the family feeling we want to give.”
North Shore Farms echoes this sentiment on its website, saying, “We offer the best of a grocery store, the best of a farmer’s market, and the best of a specialty shop…Why drive, park, and shop multiple times? You should be able to get everything in one place.”
Katopodis got his first taste of the business in Greece by helping out at an uncle’s grocery store after school. “I enjoyed it. I enjoyed talking to people. I enjoyed learning the aspects of buying and selling. It created a passion for me and it evolved into a passion – and I do have a passion – for food,” he says. “This is the only thing I’ve ever done in my life. I haven’t done anything else. Nothing else! This satisfies my passion, absolutely.”
This passion is evident whenever Katopodis talks about his stores. At times, he can even sound like a sports fan bragging about a beloved team. For example, when asked about the freshness of his products, Katopodis says, “You want to give people anything that’s fresh, as fresh as can be, whether it’s produce, meat, cooked foods or gourmet and imported foods at reasonable prices. And when you move it as fast as we do, we never have a problem with freshness.”
He adds, “I try to differentiate what we sell here with the King Kullens and Stop & Shops of the world. A traditional supermarket is more grocery-oriented, dry goods-oriented. Their sales are probably 70 percent dry goods and 30 percent perishables, foods and vegetables. I’m the other way around: 70 percent perishables and 30 percent dry goods. They can offer the dry goods at almost the same price or better prices than me. But they can’t compete with the quantity or quality of our fresh goods.”
When asked what his favorite section of the store is, Katopodis immediately answers “produce.” And, with a laugh, “And the food counter. And the cheese. And the bakery of course.”
North Shore Farms separates itself from other grocery stores, and even other specialty markets, by combining a family-oriented atmosphere with high quality goods. But there’s one final key ingredient, according to Katopodis: high quality customers. “What I realized is that in this neighborhood you’re dealing with very educated consumers. And the more knowledgeable the consumer is, the more my stores attract them, because they know what they want, what kind of quality they want, and they also know what price they have to pay to get it,” he explains.
Port Washington, the flagship North Shore Farms market, opened its doors in 2003 after Katopodis purchased an old supermarket that had been on the site. “It was a very traditional fruit and grocery store. It was like a supermarket from the ‘60s. Actually, the equipment was from the ‘60s,” he says. “I asked [the original owner, Lou Campanelli] for some information. But he told me not to come here. ‘All the big guys are here. King Cullen, Stop & Shop, what are you going to do?’ But I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to transform it.” Years later, Katopodis would be presented with the Lou Campanelli award by SCORE (a small business advisory organization) and counts the man himself as one of his customers.
Today, the company has expanded its mission of better living through better eating across Long Island and Eastern Queens by providing six communities – Port Washington, Glen Cove, Great Neck, Mineola, Commack, and, now, North Bellmore – with fresh and healthy produce, organic items, and popular grocery products. Still more locations may be in North Shore Farms’ future, but Katopodis won’t reveal any plans, just yet. “We’re hoping for bigger and better in the future but we’re taking it one store at a time,” he explains.
The North Bellmore North Shore Farms is open seven days a week from 7:00am to 10:00pm.
To learn more about the company or explore the circular, their website is northshorefarms.com