Who Says We Need a Wegmans in Pittsburgh, Anyway?

Word on the street is Wegmans is coming to town. Maybe it’s just a rumor. But here at TABLE, we know that the baseline for recipes isn’t just inspiration. It’s what you get at the grocery store. Wegmans could be a major competitor to other stores in Pittsburgh. People love Wegman’s. There is, in fact, a Facebook group called Please Bring Wegmans to Pittsburgh. In TABLE Magazine Director of Operations Star Laliberte’s words, “Wegmans is awesome. They have everything more and better and for a better price.” And as of May, Wegmans could be coming to the northern suburbs.

But who says we need a Wegmans, anyways? What could it bring to Pittsburgh that we don’t already have? We asked our team and surveyed others for some observations (gripes, really) about groceries. Here are our takes on the positives and the pitfalls of the local grocery store scene, in case Wegmans executives are wondering what they should bring to Pittsburgh.

Who Says We Need a Wegmans in Pittsburgh, Anyway?

Giant Eagle

What We Like: Ah, western Pennsylvania’s home grocery. You can get just about anything there. Need imported cheeses from Europe? Need a plastic vat of party mix? Need to pick up your dry cleaning, grab a six pack and a bottle of wine, your prescriptions, and cash a check? How about organic radicchio, delicious endive, and golden beets? Giant Eagle Market District’s got you. They’re also a great resource for affordable party trays and there are actually some hidden gems in their bakery. Associate Online Editor Kylie Thomas recommends the cheesecake. Editor-in-Chief Keith Recker says their burnt almond torte is on par with Pittsburgh’s favorite, Prantl’s.

What We Miss: It’s easy to complain about the biggest kid on the block, so we offer these thoughts with a grain of salt. Brand variety has gone down a lot. Personally, we like to consider five kinds of mayonnaise before pulling the trigger, so this is not good.  Giant Eagle has what you need, but not necessarily what you want. And if you want high end duck sauce for your frozen dumplings, we’ll see you at WFH in The Strip. Also, they have way too many of the big shopping carts. Not everyone wants to have to navigate a semi-truck while going through the aisles of a grocery store.

Trader Joe’s

What We Like: Specialty items galore. The dried fruit and nuts section is massively expansive. Lots of fun seasonal stuff, and high-quality flowers. Also, the customer service is amazing—Star said that once she left something at the checkout counter and when she called about it, Trader Joe’s delivered it personally to her house with a bouquet of flowers.

What We Miss: There’s no fresh butcher shop on-site. So much of everything is pre-packaged. Keith remarked: “Last I checked, processed foods, which they specialize in, are not good for your health.” Kylie responded: “Here for a good time, not for a long time.” No further comments are necessary.

Whole Foods

What We Like: Whole Foods is all-natural. They have quality standards, based on their “No List” of ingredients you’ll never find in the store. You feel good shopping at Whole Foods. All of the Whole Body products are great. Plus the olive bar has extensive options.

What We Miss: The store’s connection to Amazon is maybe to its detriment. There’s a lot less of a customer service presence than there used to be. For instance, the recently shrunken bakery is hard to navigate. And, alas, what used to be a temple of produce is now similar to what you’d find at an A-list Shop ‘n Save.

Aldi

What We Like: The prices. You can walk out of there with a whole bag of produce for only about $30. The tchotchke “aisle of shame” in the center of the store is pretty entertaining, too. Who knew you could buy pre-mixed mimosas and an Advent calendar in the same aisle?

What We Miss: With produce, let’s just say you get what you pay for. Also, if you’re there to shop for all the ingredients in pretty much any recipe, please leave time to visit a second grocery store. Unless your recipe is for cheese and crackers.

So, heaven’s grocery store would have the specialty snacks of Trader Joe’s, the layout of Giant Eagle, the health quality of Whole Foods, and the prices of Aldi. Can Wegmans deliver it all? We’ll see. Game on, Wegmans.

Story by TABLE Team / Photo courtesy of Wegman’s

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