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High-end supermarket opens in Queens West development

Long Island City's upscale Queens West condominium development is in an unfinished neighborhood.

While livery cab drivers double-park their stretch Lincolns and SUVs and wait for Manhattan commuters, dump trucks still kick up dust along the side streets. An odd mixture of construction workers and young professionals share the sidewalk outside huge steel-and-glass towers and parking garages.

The amenities meant to serve this new population are also not finished, but residents now at least have a supermarket they can call their own. Foodcellar & Co., a higher-end store from some of the people behind Manhattan's Amish Market, opened Aug. 13.

Co-owners Erhan Bahceci and Metin Mangut said they had been looking to open a store in Long Island City for four years.

"It just came up and we couldn't say no," Bahceci said of the 20,000-square-foot space at 485 47th Road. He hopes to cater to the tastes of people used to getting some of their shopping done across the East River.

"This area is a new up-and-coming area. The people are well-educated and know what they want," Bahceci said.

That means a wide selection of organic produce, snacks and juices, as well as a large gourmet cheese counter and a kitchen serving up ready-made meals like filet mignon and seared ahi skewers.

But prices may be a problem for Bahceci and Mangut. Comments on a message board for Queens West complained that a quart of milk costs $1.89 at Foodcellar vs. $1.59 at another local store.

Bahceci and Mangut acknowledged that the young professional population is still growing and said they are trying to stock some more conventional items to appeal to other residents.

"Obviously there are people who are not used to this store," Bahceci said. "A lot of the products look expensive to them. ... But our prices, I believe, are a good value. We're very much working on bringing them down."

Customers at Foodcellar Tuesday morning agreed the prices were high, but they praised the store's modern aesthetic and gourmet selection.

"They carry all the products I buy at Whole Foods or Fairway in the city," said Long Island City resident AnneMarie Nasello, 40. "It's a little expensive compared to Fairway, but we love the idea of having this here."

Long Island City resident Nick Busa, 49, said he liked the selection of products and hoped Foodcellar would replace the corner bodega for his grocery runs.

"I think they'll do well," he said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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