Located in Ventnor, N.J., Poppy’s features coffee and a variety of prepackaged food, including pastries, bagels, meats, cheeses, candy, chocolate, salads, pickles and knishes, as well as some nonfood items, such as hats and books.
Andrea Lee’s new store sports the fancy title of Poppy’s Café and Commissary, but she describes it as a kosher version of Wawa.
“I love Wawa,” she said. “Why not have something here in the same vein?”
Located at 5205 Atlantic Ave. in Ventnor, N.J., Poppy’s features coffee and a variety of prepackaged food, including pastries, bagels, meats, cheeses, candy, chocolate, salads, pickles and knishes, as well as some nonfood items, such as hats and books, Lee said.
The store opened on June 26 and had its full product line in place on June 29.
A block from the ocean, the store is aimed at kosher-keeping beachgoers looking to take provisions seaside. Lee hopes it appeals to Philadelphia-area residents who don’t want to lug a cooler full of food from home.
The store also will deliver meals to customers’ doors each Friday morning, so long as orders are placed by 5 p.m. each Tuesday.
In addition, there are several outside tables customers can use for picnicking.
A Realtor by trade, Lee will split time between Philadelphia and Ventnor, while her husband, David Richter, serves as full-time manager.
The idea for Poppy’s germinated over time, as Lee discussed the idea with friends who own Bubbies Bistro, a kosher dairy restaurant a block away. The Bubbies owners will be partners in the convenience store.
“It’s needed down here,” said Lee, a resident of Penn Valley. “We have loads of people saying they’re so excited.”
Although there are numerous kosher businesses in the North Jersey beach communities, they seem to be rare in both Atlantic and Cape May counties along the coast.
An internet search uncovered only one other kosher restaurant in the vicinity — the Jerusalem Glatt Kosher Restaurant a few blocks away — although some supermarkets do have small kosher sections.
Kirk Wisemayer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties, said the small community that does require kosher food has travelled to Cherry Hill or Lakewood to shop at supermarkets with larger kosher sections.
That can make it challenging for that Jewish Federation to host kosher events.
The Jewish “Federation does what it can to assure that community events are kosher,” he said.
Decades ago, there likely were more options both around Atlantic City and in the Vineland area, which was home to a large Jewish population, Wisemayer said.
The Poppy’s location previously was a restaurant, although not a kosher one. Lee and her team have been working on redeveloping the location since April. Kosher certification has “taken a while,” she said. Lee rented the space before the convenience store idea fully germinated, because of its good location.
For now, the store concept will remain a bit fluid, with suggestions welcome and changes to the product mix likely, Lee said.
The store will stay open through the end of September, but it could become more of a year-round operation depending on how well it does.
“We’re really thrilled to serve the Jewish community down here,” she said.
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