Grocery

The 11 Best-Kept Wegmans Secrets You Didn’t Know About

Wegmans is opening its first store in New York City this week. Grocery-store whisperer Katie Workman gives us the lay of the land.

October 22, 2019
Photo by Wegmans

Many, many years ago, I went to my first Wegmans. This was decades before I was a food writer, before I had become the full-fledged grocery-store obsessive that you see before you. But even then, I had heard of the special Wegmans glow and knew that I needed to see it for myself.

I was visiting a friend in the Rochester area (the birthplace of Wegmans) and can still remember gliding through the automatic doors and realizing I was in the presence of something great. Since then, Wegmans has continued to grow—in reputation, in store number, and in geographical footprint.

When I found out they were opening in Brooklyn (on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 7 a.m., by the way), marking their first store in my hometown of New York City, I got excited. So excited, in fact, that I couldn’t wait for it to open and so made a pilgrimage to one of their stores in Northborough, Massachusetts. (Okay, fine, I went to visit my in-laws for Rosh Hashanah weekend, but I’m not going to pretend that the proximity to Wegmans wasn’t part of the draw!) There, the cult-favorite grocery-store chain and I rekindled our love.

A Wegmans storefront, c. 1930s. Photo by Wegmans

Some Facts About Wegmans

  • Still family-owned by the actual Wegman family, Wegmans was founded in 1916 in Rochester, N.Y. by John Wegman, who, before that, sold produce from a pushcart. His brother Walter joined him soon after.
  • Currently they have 100 stores in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina (soon to be 101 when Brooklyn is in the house).
  • In 2018, 5,300 people wrote in asking Wegmans to open a store in their hometown.

So why is Wegmans so beloved, and what should you know to be a smart shopper?

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Danny's favorite (named after Danny Wegman) was my husband's favorite but I read somewhere that this store won't have a sub shop. Sigh. They have a terrific bakery. Their chocolate chip cookies are wonderful.bread selection is huge My store had a huge coffee selection and you had the option of grinding your own beans. Most importantly, they are reasonably priced. I paid the same in their hometown as I did in a store over in Jersey. Hopefully that will be true here. I could go on for pages..I will just say that if you get a chance, go...just remember to sign up for a shopper's club card. ”
— Linda S.
Comment

I decided to find out. And with 50,000 to 70,000 items in most of their humongous stores—not to mention a variety of services—I know I’m just scratching the tip of the iceberg (lettuce) with my list. (Which is why I’d love to hear what you love about the grocery chain in the comments below.)


Best Wegmans Secrets

1. It’s a Pizza Lover’s Paradise.

Pizza lovers can rejoice in the very cool pizza offerings at Wegmans. On my recent visit to the hot foods area, the pies smelled amazing, including flavors like mushroom and truffle, Buffalo chicken, pesto cream chicken, tomato and basil, and spicy cup pepperoni bacon (!). In the frozen foods section, there were thin crust, cauliflower crust, and bake and rise varieties.

And should you want to make your own pizza, you can buy your own dough, choosing between regular white, whole wheat, and organic, or even a premade Boboli-type crust ready to be topped. Speaking of toppings, Wegmans knows what the people want. Next to the doughs and crusts is a selection of toppings for easy mixing and matching: shredded mozzarella, cubed Buffalo chicken, crumbled Italian sausage, pizza sauce, and more.

2. They Have the Best Subs.

Food52 Account Executive Nicole Shuldiner is a devoted fan of their subs. As a student at the University of Buffalo (hometown turf for Wegmans), she and her friends were obsessed with their sub sandwiches. Nicole was a classicist—turkey, Swiss cheese, lettuce. "It's just the perfect sub," she told me, "on amazing store-baked bread."

3. They Make Their Own Cheeses.

The incredibly friendly cheesemonger behind the counter was happy to hand me slivers of cheese to try, and explained that a number they sell are actually finished by Wegmans (“green” cheeses, bathed in wine, for instance, and aged for another few weeks) or even made from scratch. They built state-of-the art 12,000-foot caves to age their cheeses, which shows how seriously they take this department.

An example of the from-scratch variety is the 1916 aged goat cheese (conceived in partnership with Vermont Creamery), the name commemorating the year the store was founded. My son pretty much ate the whole disk, and then was a little distressed when I told him this cheese was only available at Wegmans. Yes, they also carry upscale favorites like Cowgirl Creamery and many, many basics like all kinds of cheddars.

4. The Local Produce Is Superb.

A select but bountiful selection of the produce is super local, and as such changes from store to store and from season to season. The displays were more reminiscent of a farm stand than any supermarket. On my latest visit, the summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, and eggplants were from Confreda Farms in Warwick, R.I. Perfect for making some early fall recipes.

Recipes: Pork Schnitzel With Cucumber Salad, Instant Pot Vegetable Chili, Classic Zucchini Bread or Muffins

5. Don’t Forget the Local Seafood.

Another impressive array of local items on offer here (now, let’s take a moment to recognize that the store I visited is near coastal Massachusetts): seafood. This means sea scallops, clams, oysters (from Welfleet, Standish Shore, and Thatch Island)—all wild-caught near their stores, the signage said. There were other non-local and farmed seafood offerings as well, but it's nice to know how close most of it was harvested. In the frozen section there were also a bunch of wild-caught offerings, like swordfish, yellowfin tuna, cod, sockeye salmon, haddock, and flounder. Keep them on hand in the freezer and you can whip up a quick dinner any night of the week.

Recipes: Hot Cheesy Clam Dip, Provencal Fish Stew, Panko-Crusted Fish With Tzatziki, Rosemary Orange Cod Fillets

6. The Sushi Bar Is Serious.

Not only does Wegmans sell prepared sushi, they also sell large pieces of sushi-grade fish, such as king salmon for $35.00/pound and ahi tuna for $37.50/pound. So if you want to DIY your sashimi, they’ve got the components. There's also a significant poke bowl selection, as well as the usual rolls, pieces, and vegetarian offerings, all made there fresh daily. It looks a whole lot fresher and better than your average supermarket situation, no joke.

7. Did Someone Say Cured Meat?

If you're looking to pull together a charcuterie platter or a graze board without breaking a sweat, Wegmans definitely has you covered. In this area of the store, there were containers filled with pristine charcuterie, sliced fresh daily, and other cured meats. Some of the meats are packaged on their own, like mortadella with pistachios, and several varieties of paper-thin prosciutto, including one from Parma. Some of the containers also had an assortment of cheeses, Marcona almonds, and other nibble-y bits.

8. Their Organic Meats Are Top-Notch.

Wegmans partners with family farmers to create their own line of top-quality meats, including an organic line. The prices are quite good for organic meat. So the barrier to organic entry is a bit lower than in other stores, or with other brands.

  • In the chicken department, boneless, skinless thighs are $5.89/pound; boneless, skinless breasts are $5.99/pound; and bone-in thighs are $3.99/pound.
  • When it comes to beef, organic ground beef is $5.99/pound (even cheaper when you buy more), beef sirloin is $15.29/pound, and grass-fed beef chuck roast is $9.29/pound.
  • For pork, a family pack of four boneless pork chops is $11.79/pound, and ground pork is $6.99/pound.

Recipes: Chicken Thighs Stuffed With Mushrooms, Apple Cider Beef Stew, Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Chops

9. Don't Underestimate Their Marinated Meats.

Wegmans seems to feel the way about marinades that I feel about grocery stores: You can never have too many. I was intrigued by a sign that said that they “tumble-marinate” their meat, which is a process they apparently devised to allow the marinades to infuse their meats with more flavor throughout. Marinades include: rosemary lemon, garlic Parmesan, teriyaki, basil pesto, and honey mustard. These marinades are mixed and matched with all kinds of meat, from pork to poultry to beef.

10. When You Can, Go for the House Brand.

House brands abound throughout the store, from fresh foods to packaged foods to household items. My sister-in-law Lisa is a regular Wegmans shopper, and she says she never hesitates to buy the Wegmans house brand of anything. She's convinced that it will be as good, if not better, than other nationally branded products.

11. Their Customer Service Is Like No Other.

Lisa's husband Andy doesn’t hit the grocery stores nearly as often, but Wegmans has made a big impression on him. A customer-service stickler, to put it mildly, he says that theirs is far superior to other grocery-store chains. Andy maintains that “they have a different level of employee."

Shuldine remembers meeting one of the cheese managers at Wegmans, who was quite passionate about her work. This manager also told her told her that her dad had worked there, and her grandparents before him. And this isn’t just one story. This employee said that it’s not unusual for generations of families to work at Wegmans—that the company inspires great loyalty because care about their employees’ personal growth and career development.

Wegmans' Lobster Pretzel Twist. Have you tried this? Photo by Wegmans

In closing (for now! just for now!), I am a little devastated that I did not buy the "lobster pretzel," which is exactly what it sounds like: a big, soft pretzel topped with chunks of lobster in some sort of sauce. I’m still thinking about it. You would think by now I would have learned—but alas, my cart was full.

Until next time.

What are your Wegmans secrets? Tell us in the comments below.

For more unsponsored grocery-store love letters, click here.

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Author of The Mom 100 Cookbook and themom100.com blog. A New Yorker, cook, and mom, I don't sit still very much.

24 Comments

Jamie November 5, 2019
I am a Rochester-native transplanted in New England. Compared to the other New England grocery stores, Wegmans is the best. Bar none. It has the organic and high quality of Whole Foods, the bulk of BJs/CostCo, the local produce of the farm market, and the store brand pricing of Hannaford. But the best part for me is the degree to which Wegmans has supported restricted diets. The Wegmans brand gluten-free offerings are better (and cheaper) than most other options on the market, as are their dairy-free alternatives. Plus, and this is a real thing - Wegmans employees know how to pack a grocery bag properly!
 
A. J. October 30, 2019
I’m a fan of their basting oil!
 
Bevi October 30, 2019
I have heard amazing feedback about it.
 
Bevi October 24, 2019
My dad introduced me to Wegmans way back when. We went to the ABE stores in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton PA in rapid succession. My dad knew a good supermarket when he saw one. Wegman’s was on the top of his list.
 
Zestybrew October 24, 2019
I loved Wegmans since they came to my hometown North Wale’s Pa my family and family I would go there all this time. Everything there is great I love the different food bars they have there and the coffee bar is amazing my. My favorite coffee is the one the bring out during the holidays it’s called ( Santa’s White Christmas) I can’t get enough of it . You’ll have too give a try and see what you think especially if your a coffee lover . Thank you so much for your article
 
Wickedlicious October 23, 2019
Still have not found the allure of Wegmans. I do like that they are family owned, I can give you that BUT, produce is ok, Pizza is awful, sushi bar is average and several other markets do it better, Meats are good but pricey. In general the whole store is expensive and cost wise is on par with Whole Foods. I have 4 here in the Philadelphia area within 10-15 miles of each other and my experience is the same. They have closed the express lane during the day forcing people to either stand in a long line or use self checkout. Think it's only offering cashiers pt hours so no benefits is kinda lousy too. I have multiple other markets (3 Whole Foods, 1 Trader Joes, 3 Giant, 1 Acme, 4 Aldi, 2 Lidl, 2 Walmart, 3 Targets plus a very nice butcher marker, an international and asian market) that I can frequent in the same radius that are all priced the same or cheaper, that have the same or better produce (not even including the farmers markets which I have 4) and lower prices over all. Pizza seems to be an elusive item in these parts period. Sushi, Asian, Subs or as we call them "Hoagies"(...land of the cheesesteak) are meh I can find better without much effort as well as the salad bar too, preprepared foods are $$$, I go to a seafood place that I cannot smell when standing in the midst of it as well as better prices. I seriously do not see the allure, if anything I end up leaving frustrated and a bit angry. Grocery shopping is actually one of my favorite activities that usually relaxes me and leaves me giddy with anticipation of what I am going to create when I get home.
 
Maxim G. October 23, 2019
I've been going to Wegmans for years. They have a tendency to crowd out other brands in favor of their own. Sometimes with mixed results.I recently visited a Publix in Georgia and was surprised by how much I was missing. I was able to find a brand of Greek seasonng that Wegmans stopped carrying. I know several people that work there. They have mixed feelings about how they are managed. Some departments are over worked and people are stressed out. I won't mention any names (Sushi). It's a very competitive business. I must say though, that the employees are very courteous and helpful.
 
Skinny B. October 23, 2019
I agree their employees are top notch. I spoke to a lot of Rochester NY local residents, they said Wegman's quality has gone down hill significantly over the years. They tried to monopolize the grocery business in Upstate NY even filing a court order to block Whole Foods establishment for several years and left the residents with limited store options to shop. They just recently lost that court case (I wish they have more Trader Joe's instead of Whole Foods though).
 
Linda S. October 23, 2019
If whole foods goes to pittsford, those people have hit the shopping trifecta. Wegmans and trader Joe's in one plaza with whole foods across the street! Boggles the mind.
 
Peony October 24, 2019
In Buffalo NY they jumped through hoops and did a lot of back scratching to get an OK to build a giant liquor store near their location on Amherst St. - meanwhile there are plenty of mom & pop liquor stores in around that area of Buffalo before it became up& coming. You only find Wegmans in affluent communities - they serve themselves.
 
LASwager October 23, 2019
Definitely the dessert area! Oh the cheesecakes! They have a cannoli dip (sometimes the cannolis too) (forget the tiramisu, it's terrible). That white cake too. Oh, and that everything is in single or double serve packages so you don't over indulge. The whole deli and cheese areas are fantastic. Now for the foodie items, try to find "champagne vinegar" or "fire roasted red peppers" for those new and great recipes you want to try out. They have both! No, the produce and meats aren't the cheapest, but if I need a certain cut of meat, they'll have it. If the international market is out of some produce, they'll have it. And yes, go for the store brand labels, that's where you save money. You'll spend it everywhere else in the store. Wander around for an hour looking at everything you might want to make for dinner, then head over to prepared meals section to pick up what you're going to take home and heat up because you've spent too much time in the store. Or just hit the hot bar and eat there (no dishes to clean!).
 
Skinny B. October 23, 2019
Those who lived in Chicago before will know Wegman's is overated. I can't even find a decent can of Mutti tomatoes at Wegman's in Rochester, NY where the city consists of a majority of Italian immigrants. Also, I am surprised the author even mention their mortadella! As soon as I returned from Italy, I was thrilled to find Wegman's carry them. And no, they taste nothing like the real thing.. Wegman's actually tastes like regular American bologna.
I agree with one of the comments below that the Texas Central Market and HEB markets are better. Mariano's (owned by Kroger) in Chicago is the best. Their meet selection and produce are far better priced and fresher than Wegman's! Plus you want to take advantage of their free grilling service with any fresh meat in the case you buy.
 
matthewfw October 23, 2019
Maybe I'm missing something but yes Wegmans has a variety. But I can get chicken thighs at sprouts for 2.87 lb or Costco for 1.59.
5.99 lb is outrageous
 
Author Comment
Katie W. October 23, 2019
Yes for sure - but not organic, so if you’re looking for organic this is a good buy vs other traditional markets!
 
Wickedlicious October 23, 2019
you can find organic just about everywhere. I will say however they do offer a kosher section in the cooler area and meats.
 
Linda S. October 23, 2019
I lived in Rochester for 30 years before relocating to Brooklyn. The store will be 8 miles from my house and a 40 minute car ride. Definitely different from my old ride. I loved the sub shop. Danny's favorite (named after Danny Wegman) was my husband's favorite but I read somewhere that this store won't have a sub shop. Sigh.
They have a terrific bakery. Their chocolate chip cookies are wonderful.bread selection is huge
My store had a huge coffee selection and you had the option of grinding your own beans.
Most importantly, they are reasonably priced. I paid the same in their hometown as I did in a store over in Jersey. Hopefully that will be true here.
I could go on for pages..I will just say that if you get a chance, go...just remember to sign up for a shopper's club card.

 
Emily October 23, 2019
Growing up in Buffalo, NY I always took Wegman's for granted. I didn't realize just how amazing it is until I went away for school. Whenever I had friends come home with me on a break, it was always on the list of places to visit and, as a true foodie through-and-through, the one for which I held the most pride. I didn't realize how truly hard it was to live without it until I moved to the midwest where I now reside.

One of the things I love most about Wegman's is their vast selection of pre-made meals/food to-go and the variety of food bars/stations. An olive bar containing some of the best stuffed grape leaves, an Indian hot food bar when I need that curry pick-me-up, bourbon marinated swordfish skewers ready to hit the grill... I'm once again left simultaneously salivating and internally crying. Good thing I'm visiting home soon!
 
Heather K. October 22, 2019
They have the best pretzel bites, cannoli dip with chips, and triple berry pie! Plus, your list was on point!!
 
Kel F. October 22, 2019
You forgot NC, which not only has a wegmans, but the 100th wegmans (not Brooklyn) 😉
 
Julie B. October 22, 2019
This sounds like Texas’ beloved Central Market and HEB markets (HEB owns both Central Market being slightly more upscale with more foodie type ingredient options). People drive from as far away as Oklahoma to shop. Central Market seems to be a tourist destination at the holidays...it’s hard not to laugh when you’re going through on your weekly shop and you here people oooing and ahhhing over the huge selection of different varieties of sweet potatoes.😊
 
Dave P. October 23, 2019
In Consumer Reports most recent report on grocery chains, Central Market was first, Wegmans second. I live in NY, and I love Wegmans!
 
Stephanie B. October 22, 2019
Their bakery is on point. I bake most of my own bread now and will not buy it from most stores, but I will not turn up my nose at Wegman's bread...or cake...or cookies...etc. Actually come to think of it their chocolate chip cookies are damn near perfect.
 
Terry A. October 22, 2019
"Currently they have 99 stores in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania..." AND North Carolina! Don't forget about us! We are very proud of our Wegman's that opened earlier this month. ;-)
 
Eric K. October 22, 2019
Thanks Terry! Corrected.