Home Grown Anthony Stewart Invests In The East End, Officials Praise Development, Grocery Store For Needy Neighborhood

Anthony Stewart in front of the new East End library under construction.

A Gala Foods grocery store, jazz-themed restaurant, brewery, hair salon, pharmacy, health care facility complemented by a granite walkway will greet Ashlar Construction’s “Honey Locust Square,” the $10 million development of Anthony Stewart who’s investing in the East End neighborhood of his youth that he’s helping to transform from a food desert into urban revitalization.

City and state officials gathered along Stratford Avenue on Friday to unveil renderings of the project including Mayor Joe Ganim and State Senator Marilyn Moore, September 10 primary opponents, both of whom graciously spread around the credit with the development already underway with a new library under construction.

Officials stand in front of development rendering.

“The sun is shining on the East End,” announced Economic Development Director Tom Gill, standing next to Deputy Commissioner of the State Department of Economic Development David Kooris who said nearly $1 million in state funds is helping to clean up the property for development, a process that is ongoing.

Kooris is intimately familiar with the development area known as the Civic Block from his days as Bridgeport development chief.

Ganim, standing alongside Moore, applauded the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, City Council members Ernie Newton and Eneida Martinez, as well as the city’s state legislative delegation for helping to shepherd through the project.

City stakeholders attend announcement.

Ganim called it a “highly visible corridor and center of activity.”

Moore praised the project declaring “Stratford Avenue doesn’t have to look like it’s in the middle of a war zone.”

State Rep. Andre Baker whose district includes the East End declared “We have taken back the East End … the best is yet to come.”

State Senator Marilyn Moore and Mayor Joe Ganim at lectern. At left, City Councilman Ernie Newton.

Newton called it a glorious day recalling his youth jumping into the station wagon of Stewart’s father for a ride to the local little league field.

“Anthony Stewart is hiring people that live here,” said Newton emphasizing the need for a neighborhood grocery store. As far as Newton is concerned all the “bodegas” should be shut down. “Bodegas have been selling bad food to our people.”

State Rep. Andre Baker, at lectern, gives shout out to Anthony Stewart, left.

In fact, Gill announced that one of the troubled bodegas Sunshine Deli has been “permanently shut down” for health and public safety concerns.

Stewart, one by one, introduced his development team and tenants already signed up including Tony Pena who operates a Gala Foods on the East Side and Alisa Bowens-Mercado who’ll be part of a team running the Jazz-themed restaurant.

Stewart, whose company is located in Downtown Bridgeport, has made his development money in the suburbs, but is now reinvesting his success into his old neighborhood.

It took a little longer than anticipated but Stewart says financing is now in place to move forward on the core grocery store construction he expects to begin in late September with a 15 month time frame for completion.

“I grew here on Davenport Street,” he said. “What a feeling it is to bring back my old neighborhood.”

Why Honey Locust Square? A honey locust tree, says Stewart, will be planted right in the middle of the development.

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11 comments

  1. Hats off. If the Gala Foods supermarket pushes the bodegas out of business, so be it. Moses is right-they’ve been selling bad food to good people, at exorbitant prices. The residents of Stratford
    avenue have been getting ripped off for too long. Gala Foods is a much better choice for the neighborhood than Stop & Shop or Shop Rite.

  2. Derek, while I agree that the Gala Market is a much needed store for the East End and its residents I don’t agree with your observation that it’s a much better choice than a Stop & Shop or a Shop Rite! That’s based on what empirical data that makes you suggest that?

    The population of the East End is 7,923 in a little over one and a half square miles and are you saying that won’t carry a major grocery chain? This doesn’t include the people who live on the East End border with Stratford or those that live on the other side of the Stratford Ave Bridge, who would frequent this major grocery store because it would be closer than any other major grocery store.

    Derek, I love the East End and learned to be a Man in the East End and it bothers me for people who has never been or doesn’t have any connection to the East End, say what can or cannot be sustained in this community. My guess is that you really don’t know and just felt the need to bloviate.

    1. Don, I agree with you that East End could have had a much better choice than Gala Market would be a Stop & Shop or a Shop Rite because people have no problem in driving to shop especially to something new but Gala Market is a welcome addition to the East End. The East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, are the unsung hero here because it was their hard work that got this project moving.

  3. I agree with Derek that Gala is great for this area because of what they offer. Stop and Shop and Shop Rite can be pricey and also lack a truly diverse offering. The east end is very diverse and Gala offers more ethnically diverse foods and products. Almost like Food Bazaar on the north end. Not as glamorous looking as the bigger chains but they offer so much more – especially in their meat and fish departments – and at consistently cheaper prices. And the wide variety is what I like. You go there on any given Saturday and the ethnic groups shopping are varied and well served. I used to live on east end and the lack of real grocery stores was frustrating. Had to go to Stratford. I think Gala will be a huge hit.

  4. Gala Market will be a big hit, but to suggest that Shop Rite doesn’t offer a diverse option of food is just ludicrous. Come closer I have a little secret to tell you that I don’t want everyone to hear. Not all Black people eat chitlins and pig feet in fact some of us eat salads and fruits on a daily basis and what better place to get those than Shop Rite and Stop & Shop. Until you lived in a Black household or shopped with and for Black people you really don’t know what we eat and even if you did we are such a diverse people that you can’t pigeonhole us with general characterizations by what you think we eat.

    The East End is starving for a grocery store and I’m sure this Gala Market will be a big hit, but by the same token so would’ve a major grocery store. I shop at Shop Rite and I do buy chitlins, pig feet and neck bones and it doesn’t get anymore ethnic than that.

    1. Donald – come closer and i’ll tell you a secret…..I’m black too.. I mean I know I used a screen name but i’m Lifelong Bpt and I said I grew up on the East End. Another thing – diversity to me is not just chitlins and pig feet. I have been part of(and shopped for and cooked for) a black household for over 50 years so I know the diet in my house was not just fried foods and pig. By diverse I also meant Latin Americans / Jamaicans…etc… As far as foods they sell at Gala – here is the link to this week’s circular….WOW – looks like veggies and fruit and even a flower shop..and a meat department……I mean I do see pig feet – so you are all set there. And as someone who shops at a variety of grocery stores – the prices in this weekly flyer are pretty damn good. I know – by not having a Stop and Shop or Shop rite – you think they are settling, but I don’t see those 2 chains fighting to get into that neighborhood – because they would have made it happen already.
      https://galasupermarkets.com/Content/Files/Bridgeport-Main-1050-circular.pdf

  5. You can’t hide behind the cloak of anonymity and inscrutability and comment like anyone knows who you are and if you are indeed what you say you are. Please whomever you are, you can’t tell me that Gala Market can compete with the quality of food and/or prices that a major grocery store would have. Black folks are so used to taking something rather that what we are entitled to have and you are part of that problem with your “we sick mentally.”

  6. You are right Don. You don’t know me but have diagnosed me with this “we sick mentally”. Perhaps one day we will meet and I will respectfully shake your hand and talk as men. As far as the the market. You can go to their website. See there story. Built themselves up from a bodega to markets in multiple states. Expanding their business and maybe one day they will be on par with the big stores. But this lack of food quality thing like they are going to serve bad food. Did you read the flyer. They are offering all the name brands and I stand by the pricing being on par with the big stores. I hope it works out for them and the neighborhood. They people there deserve positive growth and development. God bless you

    1. Lifelong Bpt, why can’t you use your real name, be man and let everybody that you stand behind what you write. Now let’s see why you can’t use your God given name, you’re in the witness protection program, you work for Mayor Ganim or you work for Gala Market?

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