LITTLE FERRY, N.J. -- Korean rice wines and liqueurs have been added to shelves of Little Ferry Liquors here, since the supermarket with which it shares space made the transition from an American mainstream ShopRite to Han Ah Reum, an independent chain of six supermarkets based in Maspeth, N.Y. The supermarket stocks many Korean products and has drawn a heavy volume of Korean clientele since it opened about five months ago.
One of the more unusual features of the small liquor store, however, is that it contains a bar, where regular patrons gather in a sort of home away from home. The 40,000-square-foot Han Ah Reum supermarket, the liquor store, and numerous other departments selling clothing and jewelry, are all housed under the roof of the Valley Fair store on Bergen Turnpike here.
Nuts' Landing is the name of the bar, which is a traditional square shape with about 20 bar stools. It has been part of the liquor store for 30 years, according to manager Jeff Ryan.
Supermarket customers gather before or after they shop, and truck drivers from other states find it unique, said bartender Mike Ryan (no relation to Jeff Ryan).
Situated around the bar are a juke box, an ice machine, an "Alley Cats" bowling game, a pay phone and a television set tuned to the game show channel.
The bartender said that on weekends the bar draws husbands and wives who come grocery shopping. "The husbands sit and have a beer, or two, and she'll go shopping, then she'll maybe have a mixed drink, and then they leave," he told SN during a recent visit.
"This is very original and convenient," said regular Hector Ruiz of Clifton, N.J. He said he and others go grocery shopping in Han Ah Reum. "If I buy something frozen, I put it in the ice machine, or I can put it in one of the coolers," Ruiz said, pointing to the doors containing beer. "And, we always buy our liquors and wines here, vodka and red wine, Chianti.
"There is no place like this place," Ruiz said, adding that, like the adjacent market, bar patrons are an international mix. "Hispanic, Irish, a big cross section and everyone gets along beautiful," he said.
In the bar, 25 running feet of Korean alcohol products are displayed closest to the supermarket exit, easily seen by supermarket customers on their way out. Vodka and rum are the biggest sellers, but the Korean products run a close second in sales, said Mike Ryan, although SN observed that six-packs of beer were a popular choice for takeout. The Korean best seller is Bok Soju, a traditional wine in a small bottle for $4.99.
A 750-ml bottle of Bohae Soju, a liquor distilled from barley, 23% alcohol by volume, from the Bohae Brewery Co., Mokpo, Korea, is imported by Bohae America, Jersey City, N.J., according to the label. During SN's visit, there was Green Soju, made with sweet-potato neutral spirits and natural flavor, produced by Doosan Kyungwoul Co., Ltd., of Seoul, and next to it was Jinro, "one of the world's best-selling spirits," according to the label, made from grain neutral spirits, sugar and citric acid.
Plum liqueur, Korean and Japanese sake, a 2-liter can of Sapporo Draft Beer for $7.99, and several kinds of rice wine in aseptic containers were lined up next to German, Portuguese and French wines, and a large number of Californian wines.
The bartender said the liquor and bar business has not changed all that much since the supermarket became Korean. (See "Korean Retailer's New Unit to Focus on Mainstream Shopper," SN, Sept. 6, 1999.)
"I'm glad they're there," Mike Ryan said, referring to Han Ah Reum. "They're very nice people. They come in here and they shop; we go in there and we shop." The supermarket space was empty for about eight months, he said, between ShopRite's exit and the opening of Han Ah Reum.