Last Saturday, Freddy Hamad took a deep sigh of relief and smiled. He had finally achieved a major goal after a lifetime of hard work in the grocery business. At age 17, the New Jersey native started in the deli department of his uncle’s store, working seven days a week. Two years later, he was promoted to management. By the time he was 22, Hamad had bought an Associated branch on Jamaica Avenue, the first of many food shops he would operate throughout Brooklyn. The latest for the 51 year old entrepreneur, an eponymously named gourmet market/cafe on the corner of Driggs Avenue and Eckford Street, opened on October 13th.
“It feels great,” said Hamad of opening Freddy’s Food Market, his first gourmet shop. “All those years, I’ve always wanted to do something more high end.”
While the seasoned Hamad felt easy during the bustling birth of a new store, his partner and son, Moe, was visibly anxious, directing countless deliveries and going over every detail of the décor. “This is my first time running a business,” Moe confessed. “And it’s a nerve-wracking experience, but exciting too.” After selling his last store in Bensonhurst, Freddy became intrigued by the success of Bob and Betty’s, a gourmet food market in Prospect Heights. Following a talk with its owner, Freddy spent months looking for the right location. Eventually, he chanced upon an old warehouse driving through Greenpoint and fell in love with the area. “I like the energy and diversity of the people,” Freddy explained. “It’s like nowhere else. I used to have a store on 86th Street, but that couldn’t compare to the different businesses here.”
Freddy was also inspired by his son’s vigor, an eagerness borne more out of love than ambition. “He did everything for [his children],” said Moe. “This year I told him, ‘I’ll work six days a week so you can take eight off.’” Moe received his own start in the family business at age 8, bagging groceries, then learning all the mechanics of managing a store, from wrapping meat to stocking – skills he uses to help his father today. Foods were selected through extensive canvassing, evidenced by the cheese island in the center of the market. (100 types of cheese, imported and domestic, are currently available, with several more coming soon.) Other amenities include a wide selection of organic items and a full line of Boar’s Head products at the deli. Customers can also enjoy free Wi-Fi while having a roll or bagel served fresh every day. Grand Opening specials (a rotisserie chicken for $4.99 and three bean salad for $2.99 lb, to name just a few) run through Friday, October 19th.
Father and son also maintain a healthy obsession with customer service. In addition to making free delivery services by phone, fax and email, Freddy’s will soon offer an online system similar to that of FreshDirect. A suggestion box and growlers are in the works as well.
Moe has good reason to feel confident about the store’s future. At times, the hardest work seemed to be keeping out customers before the Grand Opening. “There was one lady who came in,” Moe laughed. “We told her that we weren’t open yet and she said, ‘OK,’ but took a piece of fruit and some yogurt anyway, and walked right up to the cash register. I looked at my father, and he just said, ‘Well, ring it up!’”
“And I’ll tell you,” smiled Moe. “There’s nothing like that ring for the first sale.”
Freddy’s Food Market
257 Driggs Avenue
Phone: (718) 302 – 5200
Fax: (718) 302 -5210
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