UWS Video: Baby Rat ** IN ** The Olive Bar At Upper West Side Fairway Market (74th Street)

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

UPDATE 10/5: Official Company Response To Rodents In The Store

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UPDATE 9/29: Overnight “Enhancements”  (i.e Renovation) At UWS Fairway

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UPDATE 9/29: Media coverage from NYTWSJDaily NewsNY Post, ABCCBSNBCPIXFoxGothamistHuffington PostNY Mag

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UPDATE 9/28:  Letterman Opens Thursday Night Monologue With Fairway Rat Joke

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UPDATE 9/27: Video Coverage From Good Day NY & Eyewitness News

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Here we go again…

On September 10th I posted video and photos of rats in the Upper West Side Fairway Market (2127 Broadway, at 74th) scurrying around the floor with food in their mouths.

Earlier today, MUW reader Glenn Herman sent in this video of a baby rat hanging out IN the olive bar at the same store.

You can actually see it running across the olives.

This was filmed around 12:20 am on Wednesday morning (9/26). I just spent more than 30 minutes on the phone with Glenn and I am confident this video is 100% legit.

In his narration he refers to it as a mouse, but he’s now convinced it was actually a baby rat.

Here’s the letter that Glenn sent to Fairway customer service:

Hello Fairway Marketplace:

At 12:20 AM I entered your Upper Westside Store to buy a few things. When I arrived at the area with the buckets of olives I was surprised that a man next to me jumped away from the produce and started gesticulating wildly. He explained that there was a mouse or rat walking all over the tops of the produce.

I moved in closer to examine for myself the truth and I discovered a small rat or mouse happily hanging out in the olive bins. He was walking all over the produce. The night manager and a clerk were discussing how they knew about the problem and that the exterminator was coming.

Additionally, they stated that these vermin often come from the subway. In my opinion, it might be time to invest in a few buckets with plastic foldup lids. This would prevent the mice from directly contaminating the produce. Ideally, the vermin infestation should be dealt with so that there are no need for plastic tops to the buckets

I wish you well in finding a solution to this problem. However, I think I will buying my olives and artichokes somewhere else for the foreseeable future.

Regards,

Glenn Herman

That was around 1:55 am today. Here’s the response from the store’s “Catering Director,” sent around around 6:30 pm:

dear mr herman,

thank you for taking the time to email us.i handle the catering for our manhattan  stores, and i have  forwarded your email to our store manager, our  produce director and our director of store operations. it will be addressed immediately. please accept our  sincere apologies. we appreciate and value your  continued business.

if i can be of any further asssitance [sic] please don’t hesitate to contact me.

regards,

[Name redacted, but also lacking proper capitalization. Rat issues aside, I think it's a little embarrassing that a large business like Fairway is sending out customer service e-mails full of grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Call me old-fashioned, but that's simply unprofessional.]

Oy. Vey.

To be honest, I feel a little bad posting this as I don’t believe the problem of rats and mice is by any means limited to Fairway. However, there’s now video evidence of two incidents in the same store during a relatively short period of time.

I’m 100% sure there are rodents and pests of all kinds in the basements of businesses across the city, but having them in direct contact with food on the sales floor seems like an entirely different matter.

In Fairway’s defense, after the initial post earlier this month, MUW reader Dean wrote this in the comments section:

I was in there last night around 11:30 pm and noticed a lot of sweeping and shelf-moving activity going on in the produce area, as well as that entire side of the store. Love you Fairway, but that still makes me uneasy.

I can also report that I’ve since visited Fairway several times and noticed that the entire aisle I filmed appears to be much cleaner, with fewer boxes of food left out on the floor. The peanuts that rats were pilfering have been moved to another area of the store and they also placed two large rat/mouse traps underneath one of the shelving units I filmed (there may be more in the area that I simply did not see).

I had been planning to do a follow-up post next Monday highlighting these efforts — then this new video came in.

While they may have addressed the issue in aisle two, the olive bar at Fairway is located in an entirely different part of the store.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a one-time, isolated issue.

My apologies if it seems as though I’m singling Fairway out — that’s certainly not my intention. This may very well (and probably does) happen at other NYC markets.

Unfortunately (at least for Fairway’s sake), I only have video from their store.

That said, I’m an equal opportunity exposer. If anyone has any photos or videos from other UWS stores/markets, please feel free to send them in.

So… thoughts? Sound off in the comments section below. I’ll give you some prompts:

  • Is this indicative of a larger problem?
  • What, if anything, can Fairway do to combat this?
  • Is city government at all responsible for not doing more to fight the growing rat infestation in the neighborhood?
  • Do you think other food stores on the UWS face the same problem?
  • Should stores be allowed to keep cats or does that create other problems? I believe they’re currently fined for this, although some bodegas do have them.
  • Will this affect your decision to shop at Fairway?

I’d love to get a real conversation going about this, so have at it.

UPDATE: In addition to the comments below, there’s a slew of (negative) feedback on the MyUpperWest Facebook page

Glenn also posted his video on his website — glennherman.com. He sent it to me after doing some Googling and discovering the earlier post on MyUpperWest.

If you missed the post earlier this month, here’s the video I shot along with a photo — you can click here for additional photos and entire back story, along with Fairway’s response.



Filed under: Food & Drink, Landmark, Manhattan, New York City, News, NYC, Seniors, Shopping, Upper West Side, Upper West Side Blog, UWS, Video 27 Comments »
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  • http://www.facebook.com/janstewart January Stewart

    That is gross!!! I’ve never liked the whole olive bar area, and have never bought olives from Fairway. It’s way too exposed. Every coughing, sneezing person, or kid with dirty hands is touching those olives. GROSS!!!

  • countrytweeds

    I do think this is indicative of a larger rat problem on the UWS or in the city as a whole. I have seen so may just on my block alone after dark. I have no problem with stores having cats to combat this issue. I rarely shop at Firway, but this being the second time you have posted on this, it will be a while until I shop there.

  • RFNYC

    I’ve been a regular Fairway customer (2-3 visits/wk) for many years, but haven’t been able to bring myself to shop there since the first rat video was posted a few weeks ago. Seeing this new video almost made me physically ill. I was thinking about paying them a return visit to see if they’d taken care of the problem, but now I definitely won’t be back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Dancygier/622058542 Aaron Dancygier

    This is awful. Unfortunately Super Market health inspections are under the department of agriculture not the health department. The public ratings system is a good thing. If you are curious to see how upper west side restaurants are doing, check out this page. http://www.nychealthratings.com/nycrestapp/browse/1/Upper%20West%20Side Its my site. I’ve been adding more of a neighborhood focus to the site. Future improvements include improving the aggregate statistics per restaurant, neighborhood and borough over time as well as an iphone app. There are lots of other tools there to help you dine out.

    Cheers,

    Aaron

  • http://twitter.com/alistqj NEW YORK UWS.

    I’m a vendor and I deliver entenmanns goods at this fairway at the UWS ON 74th n bdway. I deliver early in the morning and I see a few rodents here and there and I really don’t say anything to the workers in fairway. I also seen rat shit on my entenmanns shelves and I have to clean my entenmanns rack in fairway.

  • UWS023

    This is absolutely absurd. My family has been shopping at Fairway for 20 years 5x per week, and we have now completely switched to Trader Joe’s and Citarella. Yes, the UWS and city as a whole battles these problems, and we know they are not only in Fairway, but this series of events is unbelievable.

    First the video footage of a huge rat running across the aisles was here on My Upper West, and many people (myself included) contacted Fairway about this. Customer service/PR seems to be severely lacking there. At the very least, wouldn’t they try to be friendly and professional? The message we got back said that the rat was “unconscionable” and blamed it on the construction three blocks north and subway station two blocks south (and was full of typos). This is then followed by last night’s rat in the olive bar and yet MORE unprofessional communication! The fact that NO ONE AT FAIRWAY SEEMS TO CARE enough to write a coherent, substantive response is just sad.

  • http://twitter.com/dione_drew Dione Drew

    I see so many more rats in lower Manhattan than I do in UWS, so I hope they aren’t migrating. I very much liked Fairway before but don’t think I’ll be able to go there any time soon.

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  • sick

    I am sadden& discussted to see vermin on the open olives.The olives is the main reason i go to fairway.They are fresh&100% better than the stuff in jars that are from a assembly line.I was at the same fairway sat & purchased the garlic stuffed olives’it looks like the same olives the mouse was on that i purchased.I’m taking them back to get my money & won’t purchase any more until this issue is resolved.from I’m sick to my stomach now.

  • http://twitter.com/MrHenryK henry

    This is disgusting. Fairway does not seem to be taking the issue seriously. As a regular customer (prior to Sept 10, 2012) I was offended by their management’s response to the original rat video, calling the vermin “furry critters.” No Fairway, this is not an issue to address lightly by calling rats cute names. Of course this is an issue everyone in New York City faces, but clearly Fairway is not taking action to get things under control. Prior to the second video I was considering returning to Fairway only to purchase vitamins & cleaning products (they have a fabulous organic cleaning sections, better than Whole Foods), but I simply cannot return to the store. Its a shame the management is not making an effort to regain the community’s trust.

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  • Steve

    I shop at Fairway and continued to do so after the last video. This one is more disturbing. I agree that most stores in NYC are probably similarly afflicted, but Fairway’s nonchalance is unacceptable. I suppose it would take the NY Times or a local TV station to make the management pay attention.

    I think cats in stores would be an excellent idea. Some folks (like myself) are allergic to cats but unless one comes in contact with one that should not be a problem. And I’d rather have a cat staring at me at Fairway than a rat!

  • Laureen82

    not surprised..the few times i’ve been to that Fairway, the aisles were dirty, i saw cereal spilled near the cereal section and the produce aisles not clean. Whether this is in new york or elsewhere, food stores have a responsibility to keep their aisles clean to attract less pests. Food Emporium nearby is much cleaner.

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  • Ash

    The rats running around on the floor were gross and gave me pause, but ultimately I tried to make my peace with it as best as I could. Rats (or mice or whatever that was) in the food? This is something I cannot chalk up to “You like in a city, it’s dirty, get over it.” Honestly, I’m kind of shocked by some of the posts from the previous video telling people to suck it up and get over it or move to the suburbs. Yes, I think everyone understands that cities have rodent problems. Here’s some news – so does everywhere else in the world. Saying, “Well, it’s New York, get over it,” is just the height of ignorance and stupidity. You can accept that rats and mice will always be around; you don’t have to accept that they will be swimming in your olives.

    To your questions, I wasn’t sure that the first video was indicative of a bigger problem, but this video changes my mind. I’ve seen lots of questionable stuff at Fairway, but (like most folks) I realize no store like that can be perfectly clean and free of dirty old ladies sticking their hands into the food bins. Still, if mice or rats are actually hanging out in the food bins, there is clearly a bigger cleanliness issue going on than the occasional man-handled bagel.

    I think it would be great if stores could keep cats around to deter rodents, but that’s not really a solution since cats can carry their own nasty diseases. It would also be great if the City did a better job inspecting, but, in a competitive market like this, I think that the desire to attract and keep customers is going to be more effective than bureaucratic oversight. That said, from the response I received today when I returned the olives I purchased on Monday, Fairway doesn’t seem too concerned about their potential customers. Maybe they’ve just been around so long that they have gotten fat and lazy when it comes to keeping their customers satisfied, but I hope they wake up soon.

    Before all of this happened, I would have unequivocally said that I really liked Fairway. It’s crowded and crazy, but that’s New York. They have a good product selection, decent prices, and it’s incredibly convenient for me. After all of this? I’m seriously considering not shopping there again until I see real evidence of a change, as inconvenient and expensive as that choice may be. I just can’t get the image of a mouse dancing across my olives out of my head.

  • Simone Cruz

    I will never bye anything there again, never!!

  • Simone Cruz

    Why don’t you go to the Whole Foods?? I thing the price is the same. I’m very desapoint as well!

  • Simone Cruz

    Good choice!! I love Citarella and Whole foods, These stores are great!! they have very good products, fresh fruit and veggie and the store are clean!!

  • Simone Cruz

    Wow!!!

  • Simone Cruz

    O my god!! I will never buy at this super market again!! Never!!!

  • Shopper

    Fairway sent me this response when I wrote them to ask what they were doing about the problem:

    “We believe the incident was caused by the massive construction that is happening throughout the immediate vicinity of the store, and which has been well documented in the press. Indeed, we have done an exhaustive top to bottom review of our store and determined that the problem is definitely an external one. Moreover, we are firmly committed to having the highest standards in the industry for cleanliness and sanitation. We want to assure you that we are taking comprehensive measures and sparing no expense to fully remedy the situation.”

    So they say it’s an “external” problem. I think that once a rat walks through the front door it becomes an internal Fairway problem. I’d like to know what these “comprehensive measures” are — and finger-pointing at the nearby construction site isn’t a solution.

    I couldn’t care less whether this rat came from underneath Fairway, across the street, or another borough. All I care about is that when it arrived at Fairway, it started dancing in my olives.

  • UWStruth

    I love it. I am tired of seeing the arrogant punk of an owner Dan Glickberg, appear everywhere on NBC 4 for the last few years, with his chest puffed out, as if he actually DOES ANYTHING except walk around fairway like a prince waiting for his father the king to die so he can be crowned.

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