In 1888, two teenage boys opened a little grocery store using all of their savings. This gas lit, scrupulously neat and clean retail store was located at 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue in New York City. In those days this location was considered far uptown, for the big shopping centers were downtown Lord & Taylor was on Grand Street and Macy's on 14th Street.
The store of Diedrich (Dick) and Charles Gristede prospered, close by the fine estates along the East River. The boys went without luxuries and sometimes without necessities. They were industrious and worked hard. People liked the idea that whatever they bought at Gristedes was the best money could buy. Housewives arrived on foot or by carriage in bonnet and bustle. Each brought her own market basket and took her purchases home with her. After several years, the Gristede brothers had saved enough to open another store, much larger than the first. In following years more stores were added. Electricity supplemented gas lights, and old store fronts and fixtures have been replaced by modern equipment.
At one time Gristedes stores were located
in Westchester, Long Island and Connecticut. The supermarket chain
pioneered in meat departments, believing correctly that the
shopper found convenience in doing business with the butcher under the same
roof as the grocery department. By 1938 there were 161 stores including liquor
stores which were opened after the repeal of prohibition in 1933. Vacations
unheard in the retail food business in those days have been given to employees
since 1897. On May 22, 1938 the brothers Gristede organized a 50th golden
anniversary dinner at the old Hotel Astor in New York for more than 600
The employees presented Diedrich and Charles each with a gold tray on which was inscribed the well wishes of their employees. The brothers sold the company to the Southland Corporation in 1969 and in 1986 the stores were acquired by the Red Apple Group. Today, Gristedes proudly operates over thirty stores throughout Manhattan, Westchester and Brooklyn including a store on Roosevelt Island. After more than 110 years, Gristedes progress continues. Management, and associates alike, can well be proud of the history attached to the name of this New York 'landmark'.