After persevering through several setbacks — for example, a freezer malfunctioned and froze bottles of wine, beer and sodas, which, sad face, they had to throw away — the folks at Earl's Grocery finally opened their doors on July 28.
Sisters Tricia Maddrey and Bonnie Warford — owners of Carpe Diem, a restaurant and catering business — knew they wanted to create a spunky and upbeat atmosphere for customers to eat some great food.
Earl's Grocery is less than a block away from Maddrey and Warford's upscale restaurant. Here you'll find hidden treasures often not available in other stores: from handmade pasta to Cilantro and Lime Beef Jerky to Armenian-grown Harvest Song cured walnuts.
Warford said that "grocery stores are so behind that no one offers current food trends. You have to wait a whole year to get the things you see in magazines. Even when it comes to flavors of snacks; stores only offer one or two when there are so many more unique flavors."
Named after their father Earl Warford, Earl's specializes in providing customers high-quality juices, beer, spices, cheeses, desserts and whatever else they request.
Earl's is unlike your conventional grocery store. It's small and stylish with wood-top tables, steel chairs and a large windows offering an expansive view of the ever-developing Elizabeth Avenue. Its assortment of goodies are displayed in stations rather than aisles.
"One of the biggest things we noticed when visiting stores across the United States is that there are so many high shelves that you can't see across the store. We wanted it to feel really open and inviting," Warford said. "So even when we start building more shelves, they won't go over 4 and a half feet."
Stations include cookies, cakes, juices, cheeses, yogurts, oils, charcuterie, spices, sandwiches, noodles and other small snacks. Because of Earl's intimate setting, good customer service is hard to avoid. The station assistants have lots of knowledge they're willing to share, including where each item comes from and how it can be used.
"We just want to carry things that are unique and of good quality. We have people ask about all kinds of things they've tried around the U.S. and we are constantly trying to get what our customers want," Warford said. "Our next step is to start our cooking and mixology demonstrations and then create our wine club. We want this to be something bigger than just a grocery shopping trip."
1609 Elizabeth Ave.
Monday- Friday, 10 a.m.- 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.