What's billed as the largest Asian supermarket in Western New York is now open for business. The store carries thousands of food items popular in several Asian countries, including live fresh fish.
The Asia Food Market quietly opened its doors at noon Thursday. And many of the hundreds of people who were lined up outside headed straight to the large seafood section. Owner Rockey Ren says he gets black bass, yellow eels, lobster, crabs and several other varieties of live seafood direct from the Fulton Fish Market in New York City.
"We have four truck, four truck a week from New York to Buffalo four times a week. So mostly we got very very fresh seafood," Ren said.
He came to the U.S. from China in the late 1980s - settled in Rochester - and opened his first store there ten years ago. His newest location on Niagara Falls Boulevard, near the I-290, in Amherst, occupies a large section of a former Walmart store.
"We're getting bigger, bigger, bigger. The first one we started in 2007. And in 2015 we opened another one in Syracuse. This is the third one," Ren said.
Along with seafood - the store has fresh produce, brand name packaged goods, dairy products, and traditional foods from across Asia. Ren says many customers will feel like they're in the own country. And he says he's not concerned about competition from other grocers.
"We are sort of different. We are the biggest Asian market in Western New York. So we have and they don't have it," Ren said.
So far the store has about 30 employees. But that number's likely to grow because he says future plans include expanding the store to include a food court featuring a variety of prepared Asian culinary favorites.