Munjoy Hill native turns abandoned building into an ‘anti big box store’

tight joe

On the surface it seems there are no shortages of places to pick up fresh food in Portland. But native Joe Fournier, who grew up on Munjoy Hill, begs to differ.

Signing a lease on a rundown, boarded up 1920s Washington Avenue building, which was last home to a printing shop, the 36 year old is ready to up the ante.

“When I grew up there were markets on every block,” says Fournier, who remembers when the Blue Spoon restaurant and Hilltop Coffee were neighborhood convenience stores.

After nine years in the grocery business — he worked at Rosemont Market and was a founding partner at The Farm Stand in South Portland — he is ready to go out on his own with A & C Grocery. “I’ve been thinking about this concept for years,” said Fournier, who plans to open in two and a half weeks.

interior

A & C Grocery under construction.

His “global market” will have a deli, and sell beer, wine, local fruits and veggies in season. It will also sell local eggs, milk and poultry. Prepared foods will be added as a kitchen comes together.

Living for years in New York’s Lower East Side, Fournier is bringing the sprit of the corner bodega to Portland.

“It’s a combination of good timing and a huge leap of faith,” said the urban grocer, surveying the active carpentry crew Wednesday afternoon.

Located at the top of Fox Street where it intersects with Washington Avenue, the market is an “anti big box store,” said Fournier. The vibe, like the neighborhood, will be intimate and evolving. “Employees will help define the concept. I want it to be a workshop,” said Fournier. “I am trying to serve the community.”

The modern Mr. Hooper will take the pulse of the community item by item, purchase by purchase. “If people want toilet paper and Cheerios, I’ll sell toilet paper and Cheerios,” said Fournier. “I am here to serve the community,”

A & C Grocery, 131 Washington Ave., will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Look for a late February opening. 

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.