UWS Video/Photos: Rats Scurrying Around INSIDE Upper West Side Fairway Market

Monday, September 10th, 2012

(Keep an eye on the right side of the video, around the 8-second mark)

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


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


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


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


UPDATE 9/26: Ratgate continues… A reader just sent in a new video shot at the same store — this time it’s of a baby rat ** IN ** the store’s olive bar


UPDATE: 4:30 pm: Fairway has responded to this post in the comments section — you can read it in its entirety below (here’s a link directly to their response).

In brief, they call the incident “unconscionable” and have brought it “not only to the attention of the Store Manager and our Quality Control team, but also to the attention of senior management.” They also report they’re “already in the process of conducting a thorough investigation and are taking immediate steps to remedy the problem.”

To their credit, they also appear to be responding by Twitter to people who included @FairwayMarket on tweets about this today.

If you have thoughts or comments on the situation, you can contact Fairway directly by e-mail at qualitycontrol@fairwaymarket.com.

Happy to hear from them — seems like a good first step.


UPDATE 2:10 pm: Comments have been trickling over the past couple of hours, both on this page and via the MUW Facebook page and Twitter.

Most include some variation of “that’s disgusting,” “I’ll never shop there again!” or “they should be closed by the health department!”

All are valid opinions, but I liked the one below by MUW reader and frequent contributor @PeteLabrozzi. While I definitely don’t think Fairway should be given a free pass on this, it more or less reflects my thoughts on the matter as well. I think most people would be horrified if they knew just how omnipresent rats are in NYC businesses. From Pete:

Part of me thinks “gross”, the other part of me thinks how monumental a task it must be to try keeping them out. Fairway overall is one of the nicest, cleanest grocery stores I’ve come across in the city, and I’m sure they are constantly battling vermin. I’ll still be shopping there.

I suspect that viewpoint may be in the minority (although there have been a few others along the same lines), but I think it’s a mostly rational perspective on an otherwise entirely off-putting incident. That said, I think Fairway clearly needs to step up their efforts here.

Also, just FYI since someone asked me to clarify — this happened at the Fairway at 2127 Broadway (at 74th), not the one near 125th Street.


I’m not at all bothered by rats and begrudgingly accept them as a part of NYC life, but even I thought this was a bit much:

While shopping at the Upper West Side Fairway around 12:40 am the other night, I spotted a group of rats scurrying back and forth across aisle #2 — sometimes with food in their mouth.

After seeing one rat streak across the aisle, I figured it was a one-time, freak occurrence.

It was not.

A few moments later, it happened again.

I spent the next 20 minutes watching in wonderment as at least two rats (although I’m pretty sure there were three) darted back and forth across the aisle.

After a while, I realized they were going in between the shelving units that divide aisles #2 and #3 and snagging peanuts located at the bottom of aisle #3. It’s a little hard to tell, but if you look closely at the video above, you can see the rat has a peanut in its mouth (easier to see if you watch it in “full screen” mode). You can also kind of make out a peanut in this slightly blurry photo.

God only knows what else they were doing back there…

While I’m far from an expert on vermin behavior, it looked to me as if this wasn’t a new experience for these rats. They appeared to have the process down pat and did not seem to be intimidated by people — after I had been there for about 10 minutes, one of the rats scampered within a few feet of me for a closer look. Apparently dismayed that I didn’t have any peanuts, it went right back to “shopping” after spending a good 5 – 10 seconds out in the open.

I wasn’t able to snap a photo in time, but at one point a rat perched itself on the pile of onions pictured below and appeared to be surveying the lay of the land.


While the hour was late and the store was obviously not crowded, I found it surprising that I was apparently the only person to witness the rat shenanigans. They probably crossed the aisle close to a dozen times while I was standing there.

It appears that Fairway is aware of the problem (at least to some degree), as I spotted a mouse trap just a few feet from where the action was happening (it looks to be in the “sprung” position).

Given that the rats in question were at least twice the size of the trap, I was reminded of the scene in Jaws where Chief Brody tells Quint “you’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

I can’t be the only person to have ever seen this — anyone else have a similar experience?

Would this stop you from shopping at Fairway? Does it cross the line between “Hey, it’s New York — shit happens…” and “Dude — seriously?!”

Sound off in the comments.



Filed under: Food & Drink, Landmark, Manhattan, New York City, News, NYC, Photos, Seniors, Shopping, Upper West Side, Upper West Side Blog, Upper West Side Oddities, UWS, Video 32 Comments »
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  • Laura

    I’m just this minute about to go shopping there. I will be shopping exclusively in the upstairs organic section. I know… It doesn’t really matter. Pays to wash your produce thoroughly!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bigtallguy64 Mark D. Friedman

    It should be shut down immediately!

  • Bill Stock

    Not surprising. There have been several articles in the papers recently about rats on 76th Street apparently dislocated by the construction on Broadway.

  • NYCya

    Good lord… Have not seen them in Fairway, but while sitting in the park last week, two – one big, one baby- scurried past me as I was sitting by the lake. There seems to be a new infestation in the city. Only makes sense they would be in all the stores. Several years ago, I found on IN the lettuce in the WS Market a block up. Jeez…

  • Pcnyc

    I’ve seen mice up in the bulk, serve-yourself section.
    I love Fairway but rats?….this doesn’t make me happy. Management oversight isn’t what it used to be even just a few years ago. Prices go up, smaller portions.
    When they changed their Caesar dressing recipe for the prepared salads, it seemed a kind of bellweather. It used to be tasty and nuanced. Now it’s more a gloop of fatty Miracle Whip. The rotisserie chickens aren’t as lovingly-prepared either. Or the FW organic popcorn. *sigh, eyeing Whole Foods aka. Whole Paycheck*

  • http://twitter.com/eEmmerich Ellen Emmerich

    The good part is that you know they’re not using tons of poisons around the food you buy and eat. The poison is far worse for you than a few sneaky rats.

  • Laureen82

    this is absolutely disturbing! thanks for sharing and this makes me even more inclined to support local farmers at the greenmarkets.

  • Ash

    Eek! Thanks for sharing – I suppose this is probably more common that I’d like to believe, but it’s still incredibly disturbing to have the veil pulled back. I hope that the management is doing more than throwing down a few rat traps. I’m in this Fairway at least a few times per week (I live only a block away), but this is certainly giving me pause in regard to future visits.

  • http://twitter.com/FairwayMarket Fairway Market

    Thank you so much for letting us know about your encounter with the furry critter who, thanks to all the nearby construction, somehow got into a Fairway Market on the Upper West Side of New York City at 12:40am. This is unconscionable for us at Fairway Markets and we have brought this not only to the attention of the Store Manager and our Quality Control team, but also to the attention of senior management. We are already in the process of conducting a thorough investigation and are taking immediate steps to remedy the problem. Please feel free to contact our quality control directly at qualitycontrol@fairwaymarket.com in the future. Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.

  • NYCDoc

    About six months ago, when I was waiting for a table at the restaurant on the second floor, I noticed a rat (or maybe it was a mouse?) scurry across the floor and into a hole in the wall. I pulled aside one of the managers to tell him, and he nonchalantly said, “Yeah, that happens with old buildings like this.” I’m have to admit: that seemed pretty reasonable to me. I figured that the occasional rat in your grocery store is just another one of those things we proudly tolerate as New Yorkers.

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  • NYCya

    The doors really do need to be kept closed. And if there is a rat problem in the store (which clearly there is) there needs to be some sort of “rat patrol” happening. The restaurants by law now require a grading system. I’m sure if the same thing applied to Fairway, this would warrant an “F”. Trader Joes, anyone? Fresh direct?

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KYKZHTQUUWQEBWZXURKLLEUCZI vgrosenw

    as i was reading your blog, not only was i comparing your experiences with mine at the 86th street fairway (clean, new store populated by pleasant, hard working employees), i also wondered how many other restaurants, super markets, bodegas, etc., have similar struggles with rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, etc.

  • Dean

    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.

  • Hilary Sargent Ramadei

    About a month ago I was at the Fairway on 125th and saw a mouse scurry across the aisle in the produce section. Then a minute later I saw ANOTHER mouse. After 5 minutes in the produce section I had seen at least 5-6 mice. I notified the manager who looked concerned but did not seem shocked.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lesleyisfabulous Lesley Kennedy Rodríguez

    I have to add that in addition to the rat problems, Fairway has had a problem of homeless men who come in with very dirty hands (on one occasion I watched a man with bloody open wounds on his knuckles, as well as dirt) who then dip his hands & fingers into the olive and pepper bins, licking their hands and eating, and repeating this. I once mentioned it to a floor attendant, and he shrugged, looked for the man, and over the hour I spent shopping for my groceries, never once saw them take away the bin, or care that it was at that point contaminated with someones blood & saliva. Since then I NEVER shop their olive bar and instead go to citarella since they have their olive bar behind glass. In general, it seems like theres just an attitude at Fairway when it comes to cleanliness of ‘eh, too busy to care’.

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  • dstuws

    Cmon guys if you believe there is a grocery in nyc that’s not rat infested you are living in a dream world. AND every restaurant kitchen. Grossed out? Move to a suburb with enclosed and environmentally controlled strip malls.

  • dstuws

    Everyone knows you don’t eat out of the giveaway food samples. Go to anyone of those free sample plates at Whole Foods and spy from afar. You will never ever take a free sample again.

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  • GLaT

    The idea that Fairway knew there was a problem yet continued to store the olives in open containers is revolting and shows they don’t really care about the customers. Disgusting and sad that $ is more important than people. And, this is the West Side?

  • andrenyrk

    Well – maybe they could just adopt a few good mouser CATS. Nothing new about this ;problem or solution, it’s been done for centuries. I have seen this implemented very successfully in a number of health food stores around the country.

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  • Tricia :

    Are you kidding?

  • Tricia :

    Sounds like a plan, because if you think this is normal and won’t help us to do anything about it, then it’s time to move.

  • dstuws

    People unless you want to relocate the subway system, the 100 year old sewers and add alleyways, this is not a problem any business with a door and food can resolve. I know it’s disgusting, but that is why there are probably mouse traps around the store at night. Remember mouse traps only kill mice once they are in the store. This is NYC and no, there is no way to clear the mice out of the entire city unless you get rid of the people.

  • dstuws

    Please any busineas with a door and food in NYC has mice. Are you going to add alleyways and relocate the 100-year old subway and sewer lines? You are not being realistic. Fairway can use mouse traps but they can’t kill mice originating from all over, outside the store.