Friday, August 5, 2011

Jersey Shore Bonus Stores!
Atlantic Highlands NJ

Location: 36 1st Avenue, Atlantic Highlands NJ

I have been preparing to present this store as a former Acme for a few weeks now. Several emails have come in reminding me to check it out for the Jersey Shore Tour. From the images I had seen I was about 90% certain the store had started out as an Acme. A few weeks ago, I paid the store a visit and came away from it pretty sure it wasn't. To add even more doubt, this address does not appear on any of the lists that I have of old Acme locations. Not a one. Course other stores have been missing from those lists as well. Regardless... this should be an interesting post. There's an extra bonus included down below of another old-school store I found in this town.  

Update: Word has just come in... even before this post went up... this store was NOT an Acme! Started out as a Finast. So we are Acme-free this Friday. Too late to get a real Acme up on the blog for today so we'll just have a round of Bonus Shore Stores instead.

Foodtown is a chain that I am not very familiar with. I've only ever been in a handful of locations and they've never proven to be very memorable... with the exception of the Foodtown of Whippany NJ. That was an incredible store. Huge fresh food bars lined the last aisle of the store back when food bars were not commonly found in grocery stores. The Produce department wa very high-end for it's time. I would stop by the store when I was taking management training classes at the Acme offices in Whippany. (For the record: I haven't worked for Acme in over 20 years now). Not sure when the Whippany Foodtown went under. Pathmark took the place over and promptly removed everything that was cool about it. I believe they are outta there now having shut down during the last round of A&P's closures.  

This Super Foodtown is paired with "Circus Fresh Foods". Not sure what that means exactly but the logo is absolutely dreadful. Click here for a look. The fresh food services here take up a little more than half of the pitched-roof building. The store has expanded at the opposite end of the store. What struck me about this place was the unbelievable number of employees on the clock on a week day afternoon. There must have been 6 to 8 people behind the deli and fresh food service counters. 3 employees in produce. Another 3 working the meat cases. Nearly every register open with cashiers waiting to lead customers to their lanes. Impressive service all around. The store is very clean and well stocked and appears to do big business. 

Some noticeable differences here from an Acme styled pitched-roof store. The pitch is not as high and the roof extends further out the front of the building. While most pitched-roof Acme's follow a pretty specific design, we have seen a couple that do not. Hallstead and Silver Creek are some examples. There are other unique former pitched-roof Acmes on flickr, none of which I have been able to located today. I will add them to the post when I track them down. 

There is a second floor above these rear departments exactly like an Acme would have had. Windows up on the second floor looking out onto the sales floor make for an interting feature...

This area here may be been moved back from where the original wall extended across the back of the store. Impossible to know for sure how this store started out but it is clear that many alterations have been done over the years.

Let's take a look at some aerial images...

Expansion to the right of the store into what were probably some smaller stores with additions added to the back as well. 

Just a few blocks to the water...

Guess what other store is in town? An old-school A&P! We'll go there now....

Almost gets me as excited as seeing an old Acme!

The Foodtown clearly draws more shoppers than the A&P. It also has a better location in the center of town. Not many shoppers here and a fraction of the employees as the Foodtown. Comparing the two, this place felt completely deserted. 

I good ol' A&P sign. Love seeing it in it's former glory and not all junked up with "Super", "Food Market", "Foodmart","Fresh Market", "Fresh" etc etc. A&P hacked off the orange and yellow crescents for an updated look a few years ago. I personally thought it was a bad idea, leaving the logo looking like a mistake after we've been so used to seeing this version for decades. TV and prints ads now show the logo as a circle which is a big improvement. Not sure if that version is going to be the official logo for the chain. It has yet to appear on the website or in the circulars.

Super Fresh decor here. Exactly the same package that we saw in the old Maplewood store last September. This was probably a late 80's remodel which has remained ever since.  

Dairy runs along aisle one. 

Remember when these frozen food cases were the cool new thing? 

Very small Deli and Bakery considering the size of the store. 

Through the years... 

Built sometime in the 70's...


Back to the Finast/Foodtown...






So there you have it. Acme Style's first Foodtown that never was an Acme. But we did get a cool A&P out of the deal. Hoping to get more A&P's up as Bonus Stores. There's some really great ones out there. Some of the recently remodeled stores with the latest version of the "fresh" decor and layout are pretty extraordinary.


  1. funny, THat looks so much like an old ACME...

  2. That A&P has the same exact decor as the SuperFresh in Lumberton NJ that closed. I was not able to get pictures due to the fact that there is a second level mezzanine in the store that prevented me from snagging some good photos. The Lumberton/Mt Holly Super Fresh was built some time around 1994 with that decor package and closed in 2011 with it intact, no aisle markers were changed out, no decor changes at all.

  3. Foodtown is a co-operative chain, like ShopRite, but much smaller. Perhaps having individual owners keeps the store more successful. However in May, Stop & Shop purchased five Norkus Foodtown's located in Point Pleasant Beach, Long Branch, Neptune City, Manalapan and Freehold Twp. They have since been rebranded and reopened as Stop & Shop.

  4. Since you are "at the Shore": consider visiting the former Acme site located in Neptune on Route 35 South, just before 35 meets Route 66 and adjacent to the former Seaview Square Mall (have not seen that store on AcmeStyle). Closed some years ago and may not be recognizable.

    A possible Bonus Store further down 35 in Wall Township just south of 138: fine example of what appears to have been a high-arch Penn Fruit, now operating as a Shop Rite -- few changes to the original store over the years and a great example of PF's Viktor Gruen years.

    Great site!

  5. This foodtown is operated by a company called food circus. They used to have a store in middletown on route 35 with a giant clown sign out front. Not sure if the sign is still there, last I saw the store was a liquor store.

    You would think that there are some former acmes in the area of this store, but I can't think of any.

    That seaview store was certainly a unique one. It was on the outskirts of the mall, but it was in its own little mall. There was a front and back entrance to the building, and after you walk in, the acme was on the one side and on the other side was JC Penney catalog and a drug store. I hope someone has pictures of that store from when it was open. It closed in 1993.

  6. Hi, It was the last store that Safeway built in its old ny division Safeway had twins of it on StatenIsland and in Annapolis MD.

  7. Hi, It sure was a Finast and It was as Safeway before it was a Finast. In fact it was their is a twin to this stores in Annapolis closed. As A kid my dad was a manager with Finast, I went down with him for a grand reopening in the late 60!s and worked there periodicaly over the years

  8. Hi again I meant to say that it was the last store that Safeway built before selling to First National. I met Franky Vale as a kid at one of its Grand Reopenings. So many people from Newark moved to The Highlands. He was a verry busy man shaking hands. But he was kind enough to take a few minutes to speak to a 15 year old kid, me. The store looks great Gerry Maynes

  9. Food Circus (Foodtown) not only took over the Atlantic Highlands store when Finast left New Jersey in the 70s, but the Sea Girt and Red Bank stores as well.

    Finast actually had returned to New Jersey when Foodtown's Mayfair stores got taken over by Edwards in 1996.

    30 years ago, Food Circus Foodtown took over three Stop & Shop stores that were next to Bradlees department stores in Hazlet, Brick, and Colonia or Avenel. Now 30 years later, Stop & Shop takes over the Norkus Foodtown stores.

  10. That's a really nice Foodtown. Too bad Acme didn't give some of its A-frames better interior treatment throughout the years because I'm sure some TLC would have helped them from becoming so obsolete that they needed to be closed/replaced. Never ceases to amaze me how companies ignore the profitability of smaller locations. Very few areas need huge, overwhelming grocery stores.

    Just noticed how that A&P decor package has NOT aged well!

  11. Couldn't help but notice that you spent time in Whippany - perhaps one day you could visit the former Acme up the road on Route 10 in East Hanover which closed at least 40 years ago.

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  13. I never realized you had this store up! This is my go to whenever I go to Sandy Hook! The service really is incredible, and it's such a nice store. I remember going to the A&P and it was a lo smaller and always felt a bit dreary. It's been a while since I've been here. This post brought some joy into my day.