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Windsor Essex Grocers Have A Corner On The Food Market
By Jim Murphy
Looking for a local grocery shopping experience each week in addition to special trips to farmers’ markets? Hoping to avoid big box superstores?
Then try out some of the family markets, grocers, butcher shops and delicatessens featured in this article and support local.
Even through the pandemic, these businesses have stayed open, as they are literally the bread and butter of our community. They are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL in so many ways!
While there are lots of great choices when it comes to local grocers, we now provide a special sampling from all corners of the Windsor region.
East Windsor: M.R. Meat Market
Since 2005, when their first store opened on the west side with two more stores to follow in the city later, M.R. Meat Markets has served the Windsor community by putting quality food on people’s tables at prices that are very affordable.
“Our competitive strategy is to offer a much better service, a friendlier staff and fresher products at much better prices,” claims Marc Romualdi, Owner of M.R. Meat Markets. “We deal directly with the major packers and they bring items to our doors daily.”
With three locations (2451 Tecumseh Road West; 6645 Tecumseh Road East and 4318 Walker Road South), including Mercato Fresh (located at 725 Grand Avenue West in Chatham and coming soon to Windsor), plus a staff of approximately 130, Romualdi’s strategy is proving successful.
“My staff exudes the same passion in serving others as I do — they are the best in the business and I’m very proud of all of them for their hard work and efforts,” he tells Biz X. “We understand we have a duty, more than ever to put quality food on the tables of our customers at always great prices and always in a clean and safe environment.”
Romualdi’s commitment to the community doesn’t stop at great customer service. Last year alone his businesses donated over $300,000 in food contributions to the Windsor Lifeline Outreach.
M.R. Meat Markets specialize in fresh meat and fresh sausages with recipes dating back more than 150 years! And they are the largest retailer of Wagyu Beef in southern Ontario.
“We also offer ‘Marcos’ Own’ line of fresh high-quality products handed down from generations and made fresh in-store daily, including Italian sausage, stuffed peppers, stuffed pork loin chops, BBQ kabobs, smoked marrow bones and more!” Romualdi says. “The products are very low in sodium, high in protein and are gluten free with no water, breadcrumbs, binder or milk by-products.”
During the pandemic, each location takes every precaution that the health unit has instructed, including curbside and delivery service, along with regular maintenance in sanitization and deep cleaning.
“We were ahead of the learning curve right from the beginning and enforced wearing masks, sanitizing at the door and even offering latex and plastic gloves,” remarks Romualdi, adding “We were ahead of our competition on limiting people in our stores.”
Central Windsor: DeMarco’s Fine Foods
Located at 1349 Grand Marais Road West in the Yorktown Square Plaza, DeMarco’s Fine Foods is a small family-run grocery store, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team, Ray (Raimondo) and Felicia DeMarco.
“I started in this industry at about 17 years old, working in an independent grocery store here in Windsor, where I began learning the business inside and out,” recounts Ray. “Felicia was also in the food industry, working more on the restaurant side of the business. We combined my retail skills and her restaurant skills, to bring DeMarco’s Fine Foods to fruition.”
Ray and Felicia offer fresh produce and essential groceries, paired with specialty foods imported from Europe (which you won’t find in an ordinary big-box supermarket). They also offer their own house-made “grab-and-go” light fare, desserts and a variety of products from local farmers, artisan bakeries, restaurants and local food suppliers.
“What really separates us from our competitors is the efficiency of getting the items you need at our store in a fraction of the time it would take at a big-box store,” Ray expresses. “We are a local grocery store where you can find all your favourite products from local businesses under one roof. If it’s in season in our area, we are sure to have it ready to go!”
Since opening in 2018, they have grown to specialize in a large assortment of foods to cater to dietary restrictions and lifestyles, such as gluten-free products and desserts, Keto-friendly items and a large selection of vegan products.
“Our main passion stems from being able to create a retail space that people enjoy coming to,“ states Ray. “There is nothing we enjoy more than to have a store that is welcoming and stocked with fresh food that people in the community genuinely care about.“
During the pandemic, DeMarco’s Fine Foods has ensured customer safety by limiting the number of customers in the store, offering curbside pickup and placing directional arrows in store to avoid close contact between customers. They also sanitize all high-contact surfaces throughout the day and after each customer use.
West Windsor: Fred’s Farm Fresh International Market
Situated at 2144 Huron Church Road, Fred’s Farm Fresh has provided Windsor and Essex County with fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, hot n’ ready-foods, groceries and impeccable, above-and-beyond customer service, for 43 years.
“Family, culture, tradition and diversity are important factors that make this business so fun and fulfilling,” notes Linda Bouzide Yacoub, Co-Owner of Fred’s Farm Fresh, along with her dad, Fred Bouzide and sister, Tina Azar. “We are able to surround ourselves with different types of foods from all over the world, whether it be fruits and vegetables, meats and cheese, or groceries.”
Yacoub and their staff of approximately 50 employees are always learning and connecting with people in the community, and they take customer service very seriously.
“Serving the Windsor and Essex County community is such a privilege and we have been blessed with years of getting to know our city and the people who live here,” Yacoub informs Biz X. “While running a small family business has been hard work — long hours with very few days off — the pros definitely outweigh the cons and it has been our pleasure to be serving Windsor Essex for over 40 years!”
Fred’s Farm Fresh is known for more than groceries and a great staff. They also have a floral department, a garden centre and a catering department.
“We are also known for our house-made guacamole!” Yacoub mentions. “Seasonally, we have been known to specialize in gift baskets at Christmas and provide amazing floral services for events such as funerals and weddings.”
As an essential business, Fred’s Farm Fresh is taking every precaution to make sure all their customers and employees stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.
“We have heightened our already intensive routine cleaning and sanitizing practices,” says Yacoub. “We wear masks and gloves, and provide hand-sanitizing stations throughout the whole store. Social distancing tools are in place, such as following government guidelines for max capacity and in-store traffic flow, and we provide curbside and delivery service.”