It’s not too often ribbon-cuttings and grand openings are this much fun.
Lidl, the deep-discount German grocer that’s been rapidly expanding in the U.S. since 2017, opened its doors on Route 58 in Riverhead this morning with great fanfare — including peppy music by a DJ, giveaways and a very long line of eager early-bird shoppers who were bopping to the music in a queue that resembled a conga line with shopping carts. Some of them arrived an hour early, hoping to be one of the first hundred shoppers and snag a surprise gift card worth from $5 to $100.
The first person in line was Justin Ferrara of Hewlett, who made the trip from his Nassau County home, hoping to win a $100 gift card. This wasn’t Ferrara’s first Lidl rodeo.
“I won the one in Farmingdale, so I wanted to come here. I didn’t have work today, so I figured why not,” Ferrara said. He also went home with a bouquet of flowers.
But Ferrara wasn’t the only repeat customer for a Lidl grand opening. Riverhead resident Diane Falkenberg has attended every Lidl grand opening on Long Island so far. Supervisor Yvette Aguiar called her up to the microphone and asked her to say a few words. Falkenberg got right to the point.
“I love Lidl,” said Falkenberg, who was clearly anxious to get inside and start shopping and handed the microphone right back to Aguiar.
The supermarket has a bakery on premises that bakes fresh three times a day and a large produce section offering some locally sources items. It offers fresh meats and seafood, fresh flowers, and everything else a modern supermarket sells. There’s a large nonfood section offering a rotating selection of kitchenware, clothing, shoes, pet supplies and household goods.
A large portion of its stock is private label brands, which come with the Lidl “Love it Guarantee” that entitles shoppers to a refund and a replacement if they don’t love the product they buy.
“Lidl is focused on delivering high quality, fresh products, including produce, flowers, bakery, meat and seafood, at unbelievably low prices,” said spokesperson Chandler Ebeier.
“While a traditional supermarket may have upwards of 50,000 products on their shelves, our expert buyers have narrowed down our selection to 3,500 products that have been carefully taste-tested and selected with our customers in mind,” Ebeier said.
Store manager Ed Keute said he was thrilled with the turnout today. “It’s absolutely fantastic. I didn’t really expect it,” he said. The place is busy, everybody’s happy. I’m so happy to be back in Riverhead,” Keute said. He is a former manager at the Riverhead Waldbaum’s.
The entire town board and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio turned out to welcome the new supermarket this morning. The officials got a tour before the store opened.
The supervisor said she is looking forward to shopping at Lidl.
“I have no doubt Riverhead residents will join me in supporting yet another fine grocery establishment here in the Town of Riverhead,” she said. Aguiar presented the store with a certificate of appreciation.
Giglio called the new store “an amazing place.”
“We saw the prices and the variety you offer,” Giglio said. “I’m confident it will be very successful.”
The former town councilwoman thanked Lidl for transforming a “vacant, blighted building.”
Councilwoman Catherine Kent agreed. “This is exactly what we want on Route 58,” she said. “It’s a great reuse of a building. It’s beautiful.”
Councilman Tim Hubbard, who described himself as “a foodie at heart,” said Lidl was “smart to put the fresh bakery right inside the front door.”
“Thank you so much for investing in the Town of Riverhead,” Hubbard said.
Councilman Frank Beyrodt, who is a member of the board of directors of Island Harvest thanked Lidl for working closely with local food pantries.
Councilman Ken Rothwell noted that the company offers “great jobs — part-time jobs with benefits. We appreciate that,” he said.
The Riverhead Lidl will operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days.
As its grand opening continues through the weekend, shoppers are invited to enter into a drawing for a $500 Lidl gift card.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti
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