Atlantic Avenue Key Food, Under New Management, Appears to Have Some Issues


A BHB tipster sent in photo of this NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets notice at the Key Food on Atlantic and Clinton.  It states that after an inspection the establishment shows “critical deficiencies” that must be corrected “immediately”.  No further information is available online.  Anyone familiar with this department and their inspections?

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  • Heights mom

    I’ll still shop there over the Montague Street Key Food. After another ridiculous experience there, and having to deal with the surly staff and totally rude/uncooperative manager, seeing half the meat labeled ‘manager’s special’ because it is turning green, and the rack of “discount” rotting vegetables, anything the Atlantic Key Food does can’t be half as bad.

    How on earth does the Montague Key Food get away with it? I’d like to get them shut down – really.

  • Anon

    “Food Inspectors are quick to spot insanitary meat grinders, meat or milk cases which are too warm, unsafe soup or salad handling procedures, and soggy “frozen” vegetables. Evidence of rodent or insect activity at the store will bring enforcement, as will inaccurate record-keeping and improper facilities to allow employees to practice good personal hygiene.”

  • togue

    The Montague Key Food is truly a monument to disgustingness. The fruit and vegetables, yes, are rotting. Always. Like what must have been left in stores weeks AFTER Katrina. The cashiers are ex-cons, as far as I can tell. How the hell does this place survive? Well…. we’re all too lazy to walk down to Gristedes and Garden of Eden is super overpriced. And, actually, come to think of it, Gristedes prices are pretty bad, too.

  • Andrew Porter

    Sounds like Heights Mom and togue haven’t been to Confession in a long time… Have either of you ever actually DONE anything about your complaints? Called 311, or complained to the relevant NYC agency?

    My experiences at the Montague Key do not match yours. I suspect interacting with employees there with an acerbic attitude and a sharp tongue might bring on the same sort of response. And making all-encompassing generalizations—”the fruit and vegetables, yes, are rotting”—does not buttress your case.

  • Jen

    Gristede’s fruit and vegetables are really sad and their prices are also exorbitant. Best neighborhood grocery options we’ve found are the greenmarket, Fresh Direct, and Fairway.

  • DJW

    Andrew Porter, your comments are inane. In order:

    “Haven’t been to Confession in a long time” — what on earth does this mean? Was this supposed to be witty or something?

    “Have either of you actually DONE anything about your complaints?” Yes — they are sharing their grievances on this blog! One doesn’t/shouldn’t call 311 because of rudeness, or because vegetables are gross. Well, I mean, one CAN — and maybe YOU do — but doing so is useless. Sharing comments and complaints on here, on the other hand, allows people to vent, and maybe — just maybe — will be a public service, in that it will warn others from shopping there.

    “My experiences at the Montague Key do not match yours.” This is the first part of your post that makes any sense, for it represents a *substantive* disagreement, rather than silly and nonsensical criticism of the prior comments/commenters.

    “I suspect interacting with employees there with an acerbic attitude and a sharp tongue might bring on the same sort of response.” Hm. This “suspicion” may well be on the mark, but it’s curious at best. Is there any basis for believing that the two prior posters were in fact rude or short with the Key Foods people? I’m not aware of any, in which case your “suspicion” is really just “speculation,” or, more accurately, a “spurious accusation.”

    “And making all-encompassing generalizations–‘the fruit and vegetables, yes, are rotting’–does not buttress your case.” I (for one) don’t see how you can call this an “all-encompassing generalization.” It could well be wholly or partly true that this Key Foods has a problem with their fresh vegetables, in which case it would in fact “buttress [their] cases” that the Montague St. Key Foods has a problem. Granted, it’s a broad statement — I doubt that EVERY vegetable there is ALWAYS in fact rotting — but it goes a lot farther toward supporting their position than anything you’ve said in rebuttal.

    To recap, those rebuttals amount to a) you should have called 311, b) you are mean to the people at Key Food, and have thus earned their spitefulness, and c) the complaint that the vegetables are rotten is “overbroad.” If this were in fact a “case,” as Mr. Porter would have it, it wouldn’t even be close: Heights Mom and togue win.

  • WillowtownCop

    I suspect both of them would lose a lot of business if Trader Joe’s delivered.

  • rashi

    The produce at Montague Key Food is essentially too disgusting to buy. This is simply fact. (OK, it’s opinion. But I go in there every day — yes, hypocrisy — and the fruit is just astoundingly gross, the produce old.) As for staple goods — they’re fine and their prices are lower than other local options. Like any New Yorker, I’ve learned to buy different things different places. But I’d love to see a Whole Foods or some other decent, non-gouging grocer in the neighb. Not to sound elitist, but this ain’t the South Bronx. Why is our grocery store so ghetto?

    (And, no, you don’t call 3-1-1 for bad produce! At best, you complain to the story — which would be useless — or you vote with your feet.)

  • Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations

    Odd. I shop at the Key Food on Montague on a regular basis. I do have complaints about it — mostly that the cashiers are distant and painfully slow and that the ice cream freezers seem incapable of actually freezing the ice cream.

    But the vegetables are rotting? Far from it — I find the produce to be in excellent condition. While I prefer the farmer’s market, I regularly buy celery, apples, lettuce, baby spinach, potatoes, onions, shallots, carrots, cucumbers, red, yellow and orange peppers, strawberries, blueberries, clementines, bananas, cantaloupes, avocados, oranges, broccoli, rhubarb, pears, lemons, limes… all of it in perfectly good condition.

    And the meat? Yes, the frequent “manager specials” are scary, but when I buy non-discount lamb loin chops I have to say, it’s very, very good lamb. Quite tasty!

    And dirty? Filthy? I honestly don’t know what people are seeing that I don’t. Would I eat off the floor? of course not, but I also can’t think of anything that’s struck me as “dirty” in 10 years of shopping there. (And I have pretty high standards for my home — just ask my poor wife.)

  • The Where

    DJW – if I didn’t know better I’d think that you were a summer associate at some law firm testing out your debating ability. Yawn.

  • bornhere

    Every weekend, I do the bulk of my weekly shopping at Monatgue Key to the tune of $150-$200, and I’m really not grasping the full-out assault that tends to accumulate on this blog. Regarding produce, the Holland on-the-vine tomatoes, grape tomatoes, romaine in handsome plastic containers, baking potatoes, lemons, packaged Portobellos, etc, that I buy at Key are the same ones I buy at Garden of Eden — and both places can have beyond-their-prime products. And I am convinced that the honey crisp apples I buy at the Union Square Farmers Market are not kept in cold storage much different from that used by grocery chains. I sometimes find some produce at Key pretty sad, but the green beans there on Saturday were fine and worth the time it takes to hand-choose. The workers? I LOVE them. They are always nice to me — on Saturday, the lines were not long, but one guy opened a register and joked about “VIP treatment.” As an aside, everyone’s mood there seemed better than usual, and I asked if it was because Tony wasn’t around. Anyway, I’ve bought soured milk at GofE and crap at trader Joe’s. Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw. Key is not the D’ag’s of the Danny days, but I really don’t see the horrors some report.

  • Heights mom

    I’m not mean to the workers at Key; in fact I try to be nice to them and my most recent incident happened when an item was on sale and they refused to honor it because “you have to buy two” even though the sale sign didn’t say so. The cashier flipped me the bird (literally) and the manager walked away from me mid sentence. In instance after instance the price on the item is not the same as scanned. I just don’t understand why the people that work there are so snotty when the people who work at the Atlantic Key are so much more pleasant. Enough said though; I’ve said time and time again I won’t shop there and have ended up going back for one item or another, and from now on I just won’t do it. I’ll pay .20 more for a can of cat food at the deli on Clinton and Joralemon until I can get to the Atlantic Avenue Key. Or, go to Garden of Eden where they at least seem to understand the idea of customer service. Actually, when I walked out of the Montague Key Food last time (after leaving my bag because of what had happened) I just went up to CVS and was able to get milk, cat food and a frozen Stouffer’s dinner (essentially what I was getting at Key Food) and it cost less.

  • togue

    OK, Heights Mom sounds high maintenance. But I’ve never done anything – and they’re still hostile every time.

  • WillowtownCop

    What the hell- I’ll start the class war.

    People don’t like Key Foods because it’s proletarian, which makes social climber types very uncomfortable. It’s like Nascar, Conservative politics, and un-ironic cans of domestic beer.

    There are certainly legitimate complaints about the selection and quality of the food, which have been somewhat exaggerated here in my opinion, but I think at least some of the complaining has to do with the fact that some people think we’re the type of neighborhood that should have a Union Market.

    I don’t know. I guess I have a little snob in me because I prefer to shop at yuppie supermarkets, but I also think we don’t want to become the type of homogenized neighborhood characterized by “boutique” shopping and restaurants that most of us can’t afford. Just look at Bleecker St in the past 10 years. There used to be funky shops and useful neighborhood markets, and now it’s totally soulless stores with grossly overpriced clothes for skinny young trust fund babies who all look the same.

  • WillowtownCop

    I also think if you think you need to spend $18 on a pound of mushrooms and you need to cook them in a Le Creuset pan on a Viking stove in order to have a good meal you aren’t a very good cook.

  • Heights mom

    Willowtown cop, I don’t want Union Market. The Key Food on Atlantic is fine because the staff are nice and they don’t put out rotting food. That’s all I would want in a supermarket around the corner from my house. Also, if they advertise that something is on sale they honor it, even if it doesn’t scan at the sale price. Enough said – a regular supermarket is fine. But the key on Montague is just gross, the staff are rude, the manager doesn’t care. I’m not high maintenance, but I don’t want to be belitted where I shop, just because I want them to honor the prices they advertise.

    In any case I need to just put my money where my mouth is and not shop there any more. I slip back in because of the location and convenience but it’s just not worth it. Day old liver, anyone?

  • zburch

    I have found the best produce and prices in the nabe are at the greenmarket on Atlantic. The chinese proprietor has always been friendly, and I love that they have asian products like baby bok choy, lemongrass, good a variety of spicy peppers. I have always called it the “Green Pea”. I don’t even know what it says on the front, but I shop there every other day or so on my way back from the YMCA. Key food is fine as long as you pay attention to what you are buying. I always check labels and watch closely as they ring me up. Could it be better? Sure, but it serves its purpose. Paper towels, 409, cereal. Thats the kind of stuff I pick up there.

  • togue

    Fruit stand on Atlantic is the best. Not the most convenient for everyone in nabe, though.

  • martinlbrooklyn

    On a positive note, I second the absolutely excellent produce store on Atlantic between Sahadi and Key. Always busy, always really fresh, the best of everything, the prices are fair and Mr. Lee at the check-out is helpful and pleasant, always..
    As to Montague Key, I gave up on them years ago. My main gripe being the unnerving, surly, unsmiling check out people who must have to be trained to be so rude. Produce and meats are a no go. And, it’s true, they’ve never figured out how to keep the ice cream frozen. Okay for kitchen gloves, though.

  • milton

    The staff at the Montague Street Key Food must be chosen for their surliness. What an unhappy bunch. They chat among themselves while ignoring their customers. Some are not rude and I detect they whince at their colleague’s attitude.
    I wish a capable manager could be brought in there. Their profits would spike.

  • http://cranberry's jimbo

    I thought this article was about the key food on atlantic avenue, why does homer allow comments on Montague street. I would also like to see the respondents credentials to be so judgmental, are these the same respondents that are always whining about anything and everything. Why not look and see how most every street vendor in the heights is taking away businesses from the people that are renting expensive space and most of these vendores also hawk parking spaces all day long by either feeding the meter or in the case of pierrepont and court street where there’s no meter but they park their all day or sometime look at these vendors that store raw eggs in there trunk of there cars with no attempt of refrigeration, or the vendors that hide when it rains and only show upon sunny days. Just imagine my idea of a cartoon, Every sidewalk space with a vendor and every store front being a triple AAA tenant or signs in the window that says going out of business or for rent. You need to be appreciative of the every day working person. PS thank you homer for the other 90% of your comments that are valid. PS look at most of the vendors spaces when they vacate for the day they leave stained sidewalks, or maybe look at the green market and see if all are from are NY or new jersey or think
    what gives them special privaleges to take away business from the above store renters whohave to be their rain or shine and pay rent and there workers

  • milton

    jimbo, are you one of the rude cashiers at the Montague Street key Food?

  • jorale-man

    I don’t see a tremendous difference between the two Key Foods – they’re both pretty grimy, and both have a lot of cashiers who ignore you, even if you’re nice to them. That being said, it would be nice if either Food Emporium or Gourmet Garage would open a branch here. The ones in Manhattan are bright, clean and well-stocked, and yet also utilitarian and not as overpriced as Whole Foods. For now, it’s mostly TJ’s for me.

  • No One of Consequence

    Who cares if the cashiers are nice to you or just ignore you. I prefer the latter, I don’t want to make excessive small-talk, and I bet that if you had a public facing job, you would quickly tire of talking about the weather with an endless stream of cubicle zombies.

  • 26 years

    OK- been doing the Montague run for years even though I am closer to Atlantic I decided to give it a whirl. I save more money there and can do the fruit market and Sahadi all together. What about the stock people at Key? They are like mean robots. The and the jury is still out on the new manangement at Atlantic and miss Mohammed on Montague.

  • Marianne

    I shop at the Key Food on Montague Street all the time and every time I get back home, I’m always complaining to my husband about how they never have certain items or the newest products. By the time I get home from work and shop (like most people), most of the shelves are empty. They don’t replenish their stock quickly and the variety of items is just passable. You can only get 10-20% off your groceries (after spending $300-$600 and only when it’s either a holiday special) and they don’t take computer-printed coupons. As far as variety of items, maybe it’s b/c they don’t have the room, but when I visit my daughter in Calif., I’m amazed at the supermarkets there and the quantity/quality and variety of food. She says, she’s amazed that I do food shopping in Calif., and bring it home to Brooklyn!
    As far as the staff and management goes, I’ve always found them to be nice (especially the older ladies), but the younger ones don’t seem to care; they’re just doing their job. (Sort of like the staff you meet when you’re shopping at Duane Reade.) The managers ‘try’ to be helpful in a dismissive way.
    Anyway, wasn’t this blog supposed to be about the Key Food on Atlantic Avenue? I’ve only been in there a few times, but each time was upleasant; i.e. dark & smelly. They should get their act together.
    In closing, I think it’s a shame for a wonderful neighborhood like Brooklyn Heights to only have a few choices to buy their food at reasonable prices. Guess I’ll HAVE to move to CA!

  • cobble gal

    Well, I am not surprised that the Atlantic Key is under new management. I once saw the old manager there being VERY rude to an elderly shopper who was asking about a sale item that was sold out, and inquiring if he could get a rain check (he screamed at the customer and told him no). Another time he was accusing people of “stealing” what looked like free samples near the registers, and started ranting that all the customers would “go to hell for stealing.” So, the man seemed a little… uh, out of sorts at the very least.
    In general I find that Key Food to be OK in terms of selection, helpfulness, etc. – not the best, but not the worst. I think the recent addition of the fresh flowers out front are nice, and I think their deli is fairly decent.

  • Topham Beauclerk

    Customer service at Garden of Eden? For the most part the cashiers are polite and quick but there are never enough of them and there are never enough of them because the management pays so poorly. The whole place, in fact, is understaffed. And so it will remain unless people go elsewhere. And they won’t go elsewhere because there’s nothing like Garden of Eden in the Heights. Alas.

  • Rik Lucas

    Garden of Eden does have SOME ‘cheaply’ priced items
    1) Oranges @ $.79 while supermarket ‘sale’ price is $1.
    2) Button mushrooms @ $2.99/lb. (a good price)
    3) Rotisserie chickens @ $6.99 is still a good deal even after the recent $1 increase
    4) Hand-carved, off the bone ham @ $6.99 is a good price
    5) Cheese sales
    There must be more

  • heights mom

    @RikLucas – they have good produce deals on the produce they display in the front. And, their cheese prices are not bad either. Like any other place they have ‘loss leaders’ designed to bring people into the store – and those are usually pretty good.

    How about another gross out on the Montague KF? Ever see the prepared foods in the deli case? The egg salad has a brown crust.