Cousins look to Manchester to expand their neighborhood market chain

hull street market Cropped scaled

The three-story building is currently vacant. (Mike Platania photo)

With four neighborhood markets up and running elsewhere in the city, three cousins are now looking to bring their concept to the Southside to help quell Manchester’s grocery needs. 

Ezaddin “Dean” Alasad and his cousins Wadah and Munif Alasad, who own Northside Gourmet Market in Barton Heights, Mocha Gourmet Market in Oregon Hill, National Gourmet Market in Forest Hill and Scott’s Market in Scott’s Addition, have bought their way onto Hull Street. 

Earlier this month they purchased 1119-1125 Hull St. for $1.05 million. 

The three-story structure counts about 6,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, about half of which is set to become their newest neighborhood market. 

The Manchester market would be similar to Dean’s other stores, offering fresh produce, shelf-stable grocery items, organic items, beer, wine and more. A deli counter is also planned. 

The group’s first market opened in Northside in 2020, and shortly after that they took over longtime Oregon Hill shop Fine Food Market and renovated and rebranded it to Mocha Gourmet Market. By 2022 they’d added additional markets in Scott’s Addition and Forest Hill

dean alasad

Dean Alasad

Manchester, where residential development has been booming but a grocery store has remained elusive, has long been a target neighborhood for Alasad and his family. 

“The area is transforming and it’s getting better by the day,” Alasad said. ”We want to capitalize on that and make sure that we have a footprint in the area.”

Alasad’s purchase of the building closed Feb. 5. The plot is split across three parcels that city most recently assessed at a combined $1.2 million. 

In addition to the market, Alasad said they’re in discussions with local operators to open an ice cream parlor and a coffee shop in the building’s remaining commercial space. He said the vacant, upper two floors are planned to be converted into 14 apartments.

Alasad said their business model for the markets is to offer both grocery products that are widely available as well as organic and non-GMO products in underserved areas, and that the Hull Street property was a perfect fit. 

“There’s a lot of places and pockets in the city that do not have (healthier foods) and you have to travel either to Wegmans or Whole Foods to get something that is not accessible in some of the neighborhoods,” Alasad said. “Some people don’t have cars and they have to travel with the bus or use a taxi to go and shop. So our targets are always a neighborhood that is underserved. We try to bring that to the neighborhoods.”

The Hull Street building totals 20,350 square feet, and Alasad said they’re budgeting to spend an additional $1.2 million on renovations. He said they hope to open the market sometime this spring, and the coffee and ice cream shops would follow. 

The building is across from restaurant Philly Vegan and just up the street from seafood joint Croacker’s Spot.

A few years ago a high-rise apartment building had been planned for the corner of Commerce Road and Porter Street and unnamed grocers had expressed interest in opening in the would-be development. But that project never materialized and last year the site was put back up for sale.

hull street market Cropped scaled

The three-story building is currently vacant. (Mike Platania photo)

With four neighborhood markets up and running elsewhere in the city, three cousins are now looking to bring their concept to the Southside to help quell Manchester’s grocery needs. 

Ezaddin “Dean” Alasad and his cousins Wadah and Munif Alasad, who own Northside Gourmet Market in Barton Heights, Mocha Gourmet Market in Oregon Hill, National Gourmet Market in Forest Hill and Scott’s Market in Scott’s Addition, have bought their way onto Hull Street. 

Earlier this month they purchased 1119-1125 Hull St. for $1.05 million. 

The three-story structure counts about 6,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, about half of which is set to become their newest neighborhood market. 

The Manchester market would be similar to Dean’s other stores, offering fresh produce, shelf-stable grocery items, organic items, beer, wine and more. A deli counter is also planned. 

The group’s first market opened in Northside in 2020, and shortly after that they took over longtime Oregon Hill shop Fine Food Market and renovated and rebranded it to Mocha Gourmet Market. By 2022 they’d added additional markets in Scott’s Addition and Forest Hill

dean alasad

Dean Alasad

Manchester, where residential development has been booming but a grocery store has remained elusive, has long been a target neighborhood for Alasad and his family. 

“The area is transforming and it’s getting better by the day,” Alasad said. ”We want to capitalize on that and make sure that we have a footprint in the area.”

Alasad’s purchase of the building closed Feb. 5. The plot is split across three parcels that city most recently assessed at a combined $1.2 million. 

In addition to the market, Alasad said they’re in discussions with local operators to open an ice cream parlor and a coffee shop in the building’s remaining commercial space. He said the vacant, upper two floors are planned to be converted into 14 apartments.

Alasad said their business model for the markets is to offer both grocery products that are widely available as well as organic and non-GMO products in underserved areas, and that the Hull Street property was a perfect fit. 

“There’s a lot of places and pockets in the city that do not have (healthier foods) and you have to travel either to Wegmans or Whole Foods to get something that is not accessible in some of the neighborhoods,” Alasad said. “Some people don’t have cars and they have to travel with the bus or use a taxi to go and shop. So our targets are always a neighborhood that is underserved. We try to bring that to the neighborhoods.”

The Hull Street building totals 20,350 square feet, and Alasad said they’re budgeting to spend an additional $1.2 million on renovations. He said they hope to open the market sometime this spring, and the coffee and ice cream shops would follow. 

The building is across from restaurant Philly Vegan and just up the street from seafood joint Croacker’s Spot.

A few years ago a high-rise apartment building had been planned for the corner of Commerce Road and Porter Street and unnamed grocers had expressed interest in opening in the would-be development. But that project never materialized and last year the site was put back up for sale.

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Joseph Cook
Joseph Cook
1 month ago

The way they describe their markets doesn’t really vibe with my experiences with their markets. The Forest Hill and Oregon Hill stores in no way substitute for actual grocery stores. You can get beer there, though.

Dan Warner
Dan Warner
1 month ago
Reply to  Joseph Cook

Yes, when they were to preparing to open the other stores they made it sound like the upscale neighborhood markets like Outpost that have nice wine and craft beer selections, fancy snacks, etc., but in reality the inventory is pretty much the same as the gas stations around and the employees are as well. Which is fine with me, I like Fine Foods the way it was, but don’t get your hopes up based on their statements if you haven’t been to one of their stores yet.

Anne Soffee
Anne Soffee
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan Warner

I would be interested to hear in what way their employees are like gas station employees.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago
Reply to  Anne Soffee

I would not have used that term but they do tend to ignore you when in the store, especially in Oregon Hill, and sometimes aren’t exactly polite or considerate. But hey I am sure they are most likely underpaid too. Sometimes 7-11 employees make my day and sometimes they make go really question my shopping choice. But it is retail. I do agree the stores are more like a convenience store some higher end snacks (and LOTS of beer) but it is not really a neighborhood niche market.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago

Its a good thing to see each and every block along Hull Street renovated or restored. This store will be a great addition to that strip. It’s not going to be a legitimate grocery though and will likely compete with the Manchester Market on the 600 block of Hull Street for walk up customers. Manchester is looking for a grocery store still.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Manchester will not get a grocery store with the continual development of rent controlled/low income apartments. The per capita income threshold will never be met with an overconcentration of low income residents.

Lee Clark
Lee Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

Old Towne Manchester apartments would beg to differ.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

They won’t get a Wegmans, that’s for sure.

But I am not sure you are correct about the idea that they won’t get ANY — one, not everyone is low income thereabouts and lower income people still buy groceries — indeed, it’s one of the areas where different income levels spend similar amounts.

Brett Themore
Brett Themore
1 month ago

Their description for this market sounds to be a significant departure from my experiences in their other stores. One can only hope, but chances are it’ll devolve into a beer and vape store. Moderately better than vacant storefronts.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
1 month ago
Reply to  Brett Themore

Don’t forget the hookah selection!

Evan Frank
Evan Frank
1 month ago

these are just overpriced gas station markets.

Mark A. Olinger
Mark A. Olinger
1 month ago

One of these days I’d love to see one of the markets not have rope lighting or interior lighting so bright it looks like an airport runway, or block all of the windows with display shelves…

Drew Thomas
Drew Thomas
1 month ago

So , another dusty, overpriced “market” with 40’s, vapes, lotto and expired goods. Great- just what Manchester needs. Because shopping at Manchester and McDonough markets is already such a pleasure 🙄

Last edited 1 month ago by Drew Thomas