By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With three grocery stores within a radius of barely three blocks, the Admiral District is home to West Seattle’s busiest food-shopping hub.
And it’s been a big year for all three of those supermarkets – Safeway just opened its new store, PCC Natural Markets (WSB sponsor) remodeled its West Seattle store, and Metropolitan Market (WSB sponsor) celebrated “a fantastic 40 years of being in business,” as Admiral store manager Glen Hasstedt describes it.
We talked with him recently to check in on what’s new with MM, and what’s ahead.
The official 40th anniversary celebration is over now, but it left plenty of memories. We covered a few of the gala events at Admiral (there were others there, and at other locations), from a cupcake-sprinkle party in June:
… to timelessly popular cooking guru Graham Kerr‘s book-signing in July:
Glen says the 40th-anniversary promotions were not only “very successful,” but also fun. The exact anniversary date, he admits, isn’t known, but they just picked summertime to celebrate the company’s beginnings in 1971. Their first store was “top of the hill” on Queen Anne. Metropolitan Market-Admiral, you may recall, was formerly Admiral Thriftway; it was added to the group in the late ’80s. Glen has been with the company since 1995 and worked at several of its other stores before coming to West Seattle, where he is in its sixth year.
Once the 40th-anniversary events wrapped up, Metropolitan Market wasn’t idle; it launched right into the 15th annual Peach-O-Rama, a celebration of the juicy summer fruit – not just the whole, as-they-grow-’em peaches in the produce department, but also food prepared with peaches: “Fantastic peach pie from Whidbey Pies, wonderful peach croissants in the bakery with phylo dough to die for, peach smoothies in the coffee shop, Quinn’s peach salsa, which is wonderful with (seafood) …salads in our deli with peaches, grilled peaches in the deli with balsamic (vinegar) and feta …” And the list goes on, including of course peach teas.
Peach-O-Rama even educates shoppers on levels of “brix,” a peach’s content of a certain type of sugar. Glen explains how this is measured, with a special device – “You put some juice into the scope and you put it up against the light and it measures the amount of sugar content in the fruit or vegetable. It’s trackable for measurable degrees of sweetness.” And they post daily updates on the brix levels as well as the new varieties of peaches that come in (many of which are explained on the MM website’s Peach-O-Rama page).
In the meantime, one of the nearby competitors has opened its more-upscale-than-before new store. Glen says that while Safeway was closed for construction, “we had the opportunity to welcome some new guests, making sure they understand who we are and what we’re about.”
And what is that, we asked, if he had to summarize it for somebody wondering why they should shop MM as compared to another store.
“It’s a community store,” he offered, where staff members will say hello, “a really warm store. We pride ourselves on a few things: Quality is huge. We seek out the very best quality we can; we have more vendors than other chains out there. The reason we do that is, we are trying to find the best product. Flavor is very important. So are customer-service levels, having a clean store … something that treats the eye and all of their senses when (customers) walk in.”
He adds, “We’re presenting an exciting marketplace with legendary service – that’s our goal, totally different than saying ‘we sell the most hamburgers’.”
Even without a rebuild or remodel, they continue to tweak things. While talking with Glen, we observed that the store’s salad bar recently moved from the produce section, where it seemed easily mistakable for more of a bulk-produce-purchasing area than a salad bar, to the deli section. Not only did it move, Glen noted when we mentioned this, “we supersized it, and now it ties in with the food-service department.”
What’s next? Later this month, the annual For the Love of Cheese Festival begins. “It’s been growing every year,” says Glen. “We bring in vendors and cheesemakers and cheese-book writers and samples and ways to cook with it. Much like wine, cheese has so many different flavor profiles.”
By the way, if you want to sound particularly in-the-know, refer to this time of year as FLOOC (pronounced “flock”) – that’s how Glen referred to it. Events officially begin September 28th (keep an eye on the MM website’s Events page), with the first one at Admiral listed as a cheesemaking demo at 3 pm September 30th.
More wine tastings are ahead (the Admiral store just had its second one last Wednesday), featuring appetizer pairings, and then it’s on into the holiday season (already!). Overall, Glen just wanted to reiterate that Metropolitan Market thanks its customers and staff for keeping it in business for 40 years – “it’s a people business, about great people and great food.”