Orchard Fresh

Since it sprouted on the Buffalo food scene in mid-April, Orchard Fresh has blossomed into THE place for western New York’s foodies. People have been known to drive to the store, located in the upscale Southtowns Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, from as far away as Syracuse and Erie, Pa. With its vast, unparalleled selection of natural, organic and hard-to-find artisan gourmet groceries it is easy to understand why people are flocking to Orchard Fresh, a division of Tops Markets. Read about GHQ’s visit to Orchard Fresh here.

Here is a look at what makes Orchard Fresh:

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Orchard Fresh is housed in a distinctive Colonial building in the heart of Orchard Park, N.Y., an upscale Southtowns Buffalo suburb.

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Frank Curci (left) president and CEO of parent company Tops Markets, leaves day-to-day operations of the store to its management team, including store director Kevin Donovan (right) and Erin Horton (center) Orchard Fresh’s executive chef.

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Shoppers enter the store facing the Produce department.

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The signage has a deliberate weathered look to promote old-fashioned goodness.

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The produce is restaurant-quality and merchandised in unconventional means. These cherries, for example, have higher specs and Brix than the cherries found in a traditional Tops store. They are also merchandised in quart baskets from a massive stainless steel basin. In a traditional supermarket they would be merchandised in bags.

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Local apples are merchandised in giant troughs.

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The pineapple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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Stuffed jalapeños are a local delicacy – and Orchard Fresh exclusive – made fresh each day by the store’s chefs.

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In-season local produce is very big at Orchard Fresh.

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These heirloom tomatoes were grown in upstate New York.

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Salad greens are merchandised in Plexiglas bins and changed daily to ensure freshness.

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Store management prides itself on its Fresh Cut Fruit Wall. Everything is prepared in-house daily.

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The Fresh Cut Fruit Wall includes a wide variety of stuffed mushrooms.

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The West Quaker Flowers & Gifts floral department is named after the intersection fronting the store.

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Its selection includes bouquets and live plants, including exotic orchids.

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The Gloucester Pier Seafood department stocks up to 28 different varieties of fillets daily.

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Many items, like this Ahi Sashimi tuna, are flown in from Hawaii twice a week.

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Among the specialties made by meat and seafood team leader Dave Fahmer are the crab Wellingtons.

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Crabs are available from around the country.

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Believe it or not, at $113 an ounce, Russian Osetra Caviar is still a strong seller.

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But the most popular item in the department is the homemade octopus salad.

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In the adjacent meat counter frog legs are a strong seller – thanks to foodies who host weekly Duck Dynasty dinner parties when they watch their favorite show. Fans of Revenge might buy the frozen python further down the aisle.

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A whopping 19 varieties of sausage are prepared daily.

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Unlike other supermarkets in town, at Orchard Fresh everything is butchered in-house.

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Cuts include items like lamb chops that are hard to find in Buffalo’s other supermarkets.

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A wide variety of store-made burgers are available, including Prairie Bison Burger made with an espresso rub; Smoked Bacon Cheeseburger made with local Yancey’s Fancy cheese; Black and Blue Burger made with sirloin, black pepper and blue cheese; and the Italian Stallion Burger made with Italian seasonings.

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Most items in the Bakery department are made from scratch.

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Pastry Hearts, a puff pastry coated with icing or jam, is one of those “Buffalo things” that the locals go crazy over.

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Orchard Fresh has become known for its store decorated cakes, done in neon hues. The Chocolate Truffle Cake is a best-seller. Unfortunately for our readers – fortunately for Orchard Fresh – a customer snapped the last one up before our photographer could take a snapshot of it.

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All cakes are works of art.

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All cakes are works of art.

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The pies have it!

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A lemon meringue dream.

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The Candy Shop Cake includes Twix and M&Ms.

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One case in the Bakery is devoted to Aléthea’s Chocolates, a locally famous candy shoppe out of Williamsville, N.Y.

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The far wall of the store is devoted to the Frozen Foods and Beer departments.

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Most of the beer brands are hard-to-find craft beers.

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As well as an impressive assortment of large Belgian bottles.

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Brochures and signage help educate shoppers about the craft beers.

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Many local items are carried, such as Lake Placid Ale...

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...and Southern Tier.

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The heart of Orchard Fresh is the prepared food area in the middle of the store, fondly referred to as the “Amoeba” because of its shape.

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The Amoeba includes a wood fired pizza oven.

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Shizen Sushi is the only leased department in the entire store.

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Hundreds of varieties of cheeses are offered in the service cheese case.

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Sandwiches using Boar’s Head meats and cheeses are made to order – and also available pre-made. They sell out quickly!

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The Amoeba includes a service “hot bar behind glass” department for hot entrees, like the spicy turkey roll, which was excellent!

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All dishes in the service case are made from scratch – even condiments, like mayonnaise and ketchup are made from scratch.

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Many items are heat-and-serve, like the meatloaf and crab cakes.

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Given Orchard Fresh’s clientele, tofu dishes are also very popular.

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As are the grilled vegetables.

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Soups are sold from small tureens to ensure freshness and prevent the “encrustation” found on many supermarket soup kettles. The small batches are replenished throughout the day.

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Six different varieties of Coleman Natural brand rotisserie chickens are offered daily.

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At the coffee bar the barista makes each cup to order. The machines actually grind the beans and then brew the cup. You can’t get fresher than that!

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A new program will use select beans from Orchard Fresh’s 30 different blends for daily grinding.

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Similar canisters are used in the Old Tyme Candy Bar.

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Orchard Fresh’s grocery aisles are filled with unusual and gourmet products and hardly any national brands.

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There is even a leaning tower of olive oil!

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Signs throughout the store point to the buyers’ favorite picks. While Jack is not on the payroll, he belongs to one of the buyers and approves of Freshpet Select brand.

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One kiosk in the store is devoted to private label sea salts.

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There are dozens of varieties stocked.

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A selection of high-end cookware, like Le Creuset, draws in shoppers who might otherwise have to trek to Macy’s.

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The Wusthof knives are also high-end.

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Orchard Fresh has very little private label, although it has a proprietary orange and olive oil soap made exclusively for the store by Syracuse Soap Works.

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Private label vitamins and supplements have also proven to be a real winner.

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Based on customer feedback, Orchard Fresh has now begun stocking paper products.

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Honest Tea – if you are ever up in Buffalo you have to check out this store!

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