Michael, Raymond, and Rocky Chanatry immigrated to the United States in 1912 fleeing from persecution and oppression of the Ottoman Empire. This was a time when the Ottoman's had domain over Aleppo, Syria; seizing Christian and Jewish men off the streets and forcing them into military service.
In the U.S., the streets were paved in gold and these young immigrants fashioned a new life for their families. They started selling produce and foods from push carts until they could open a store front. Soon, Chanatry's opened on Bleecker Street. Hard work allowed the business to prosper and soon they occupied larger quarters.
A Changing Marketplace:
In 1938 plans were made to build a 6,000 square foot "Super Food Market". It was one of the nation's first supermarkets, although the word had not yet become common place. It was Utica's first such food store, and involved drastic changes in a way a grocery store was organized.
Raymond Chanatry, acknowledged as a man ahead of his time by others in his business, trusted his instincts. Accordingly Raymond became a consultant for other grocers who wished to follow.
In the mid 1940's the trend to make supermarkets completely self-service affected the produce and meat departments. And by the 1950's major regional and national food grocery chains became dominant in the food business.
Independent Grocers like Chanatry's needed something that would set themselves apart from their challengers. Chanatry's took a firm hold on the competition by continuing to provide personal customer service and customer choice in their meat and produce departments and of course quality.
A New Era:
In the Mid 1950's, Urban Renewal was forcing the relocation for Bleecker Street businesses. Elias Chanatry (Big Louie), Rocky's son, was a key manager and partner in the Bleecker Street Business. Age and circumstances gave reason for him to retire; selling his interest to Edward, Nellie, and Bill with George Chanatrys as a key manager.
There was, interestingly enough, another Chanatry's Market also affected by Urban Renewal. It made good sense at that time to open two supermarkets simultaneously - one in East Utica and one at French Road, Utica, the current location. The East Utica store, now closed, was managed by Louis Chanatry (Little Louie), Raymond's son and his brothers while French Road was managed by Michael's son Edward and George Chanatry.
In 1975, due to illness, Edward and Nellie sold their interests to John, Louis, George Jweid, Pierre, and Joe Kawam - with Bill Chanatry as president of the business. Although the names are not all Chanatry, it still remains a family business. All owners were either brothers or brother-in-laws.
Modern Day Chanatry’s
In 1988, Chanatry's built a brand new 30,000 square foot supermarket next to its previous store on French Road. With this store was added a scratch in store Bakery Department, largely- expanded meat and produce department, and a largely expanded deli with hot foods. The new superstore continued to give quality personal service and grew Chanatry's reputation for its great offers. Sales continued to almost double year after year. The store was soon in need of expansion to accommodate the rising volume.
In 1998, Bill Chanatry bought all of the partners' interests. With his son Mark (now president), Bill started on an improvement program. They expanded the store to 50,000 square feet and 100% remodeled the store, inside and out, with all new state of the art fixtures. This new renovation turned the store into a Plaza.
Chanatry's has been voted #1 grocery store by consumers in the Mohawk Valley, year after year. The new French Road store has kept a dominant stake in Utica's grocery business against larger grocery chain stores in the area. Chanatry's is now considered "the David among the Goliaths".
We take great pride in our store, as we believe our founders and predecessors would also be proud of the business they toiled for and loved.
For more information concerning our history, or to find out where we are going, please call Chanatry’s at 315-724-4107.