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Eat, sip, shop: New grocery store will fill the void on Bethlehem's south side | Eat, sip, shop

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BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania – The new year brings a new grocery store to Bethlehem’s South Neighborhood.

Ideal Food Basket, offering a wide assortment of fresh produce, meats, baked goods and more, is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2023 at 410 Montclair Ave.

The renovated building previously housed an Ahart’s Market, which closed in April 2021 after 20 years of operation.







Ideal Food Basket

Ideal Food Basket, offering a wide assortment of fresh produce, meats, baked goods and more, is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2023 at 410 Montclair Ave. in South Bethlehem. Ideal Food Basket stores are members of America’s Food Basket LLC, a cooperative of independent grocers in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.




Juan Diaz, owner of the C-Town supermarket about half a mile east on East Third Street, acquired the former Ahart’s Market for $2.3 million in 2021.

With a team of contractors, he spent more than a year completely overhauling the structure.

Redevelopment project includes facade and roof repairs, total demolition of interior space, new refrigeration units, heating and cooling systems, changes to store layout and new colors and signage .

Franklin Rodriguez, general manager of Bethlehem C-Town, helped Diaz to the new ideal food basket.

“We’re adding everything new — new flooring, coolers, lighting, body lines, everything,” Rodriguez said. “The grocery assortment is going to be larger than what we have [at C-Town]with more produce tables – probably around eight, a bigger charcuterie department and a bigger beer section.”

Ideal Food Basket stores are members of America’s Food Basket LLC, a cooperative of independent grocers in New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

When it was created in 2007, the cooperative had only three grocery stores. Today it has 70 stores.







C-City

Ideal Food Basket, offering a wide assortment of fresh produce, meats, baked goods and more, is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2023 at 410 Montclair Ave. in South Bethlehem. The store will be operated by Juan Diaz, who also owns the C-Town supermarket about half a mile east on East Third Street. Pictured is C-Town’s product department.




“We strive to be your ideal convenience store, providing our customers and partners with a central service point, fresh produce, value and experience,” reads the Ideal Food Basket website. “We offer a wide selection of groceries, fresh produce and your favorite organic products! In an effort to serve our communities, many of our grocery stores offer free grocery delivery.”

Ideal Food Basket will fill a void in the neighborhood that has existed for nearly two years and has led many residents near the Five Points intersection in South Bethlehem to come to C-Town for fresh foods, dry goods and d other necessities.

The USDA classifies the south side of Bethlehem as a low-income, low-access area (formerly designated by USDA’s Economic Research Service as a “food desert”).

Limited access to supermarkets, supercenters, grocery stores or other sources of healthy, affordable food can make it harder for some people to eat healthy, the Economic Research Service says on its website.

“Expanding the availability of nutritious and affordable foods by expanding and equipping grocery stores, small retailers, convenience markets and farmers’ markets in low-access communities is an important part of the Funding Initiative. healthy food,” the agency continues.







C-Town exterior

Ideal Food Basket, offering a wide assortment of fresh produce, meats, baked goods and more, is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2023 at 410 Montclair Ave. in South Bethlehem. The store will be operated by Juan Diaz, who also owns the C-Town supermarket about half a mile east on East Third Street.




“There’s a lot of excitement,” Rodriguez said of the Ideal Food Basket being developed. “We have a lot of people who come to shop here. [at C-Town] who live on the other side of town. So, having a grocery store on this side of town will be extremely convenient. In many cases, customers could walk there.”

The construction of the new ideal food basket continues and the exact opening date has not yet been determined, Rodriguez said.

“We are hopeful for the spring,” added Rodriguez.

Other regional ideal food baskets operate in Reading; Hazleton, Luzerne County; and Lebanon, county of Lebanon. Info: idealfoodbaskets.com.

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