The Food Life

Back to Basics: Riverwards Produce Market

By / Photography By Katherine Rapin | September 11, 2017
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Riverwards Produce Market

Among the abundant pour over-coffee shops, craft-beer bars, and chef-driven restaurants popping up in Fishtown and Kensington, something essential was missing: a neighborhood grocery store. Resident Vincent Finazzo noticed. “How do we have a La Colombe, but not a market?” he wondered.

Finazzo is now the owner of Riverwards Produce, a wholesale produce company that opened a retail grocery store just off Frankford Avenue last spring. It’s hard to compare this market to any other in Philadelphia. Riverwards offers a wide range of bulk dry goods, pantry staples and snacks, as well as meat and eggs, dairy and bread. And, of course, there’s a stunning produce section. Much of it is local, much of it is organic, but you won’t find cringeworthy markups.

“My goal is to flip the grocery model,” Finazzo says.”Produce tends to be the most expensive thing because it’s perishable.” That’s where the other side of the business comes in handy: Riverwards sells produce wholesale to restaurants like Helm, Stockyard and Pizza Brain (his very first customer back when he started in 2015).

When a farmer like Adrian Galbraith-Paul at Heritage Farms opens his trunk outside the store on a Friday afternoon and brings in extra heirloom tomatoes, Finazzo and his team can find willing buyers (including market shoppers) within a day. Because the store serves both restaurants and individual shoppers, the fresh stuff is bought up faster than at other stores.That means waste is lower; averaging less than 50 gallons of compost per week, which keeps the prices down. —KR

Riverwards Produce Market
2200 E. Norris St.

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