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Home Sweet Century May 20, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in random stuff, Rochester, Wine & Spirits.

You may have seen me, once or twice, mention the Great Wegmans Century Liquor Debacle and, unless you’re local, wondered just what I was talking about.

I’m still a little bitter, so I’m going to try very hard to be nice charitable reasonably fair.  😉

Gather ’round, kids, while I tell you a story with, hopefully, a happy ending.

Once upon a time, Peeps’s mother visited us for the first time after Peeps had moved to Rochester.  We laughed, we bonded, a wonderful time was had by all.

And one evening, we broke out our homemade, simmered-all-day, full-of-bold-flavors and lots-of-sausage-and-other-meat sauce and served pasta for supper.  And if there’s one thing that amazing sauce needs, it’s a glass of dry Italian red wine.  Even I, wine neophyte that I was, knew that.  So I stopped at the nearest liquor store on my way home for a bottle of “something that would be good with red sauce.”  🙄

And, as it happens, the most convenient liquor store was Century Liquor, right there on Ridge Road; I literally drive by West Ridge Plaza on my way home from work.  And I found, that day, that a staff that was friendly and knowledgeable, an almost overwhelming selection, at a range of prices that included something for everyone.

Sure, it was kind of a scuzzy-feeling sort of place – bare flourescent lights and industrial-type flooring and rows upon rows of liquors and wines . . . boxes of wines piled up in front of the windows, cash registers that looked like they’d been there since the store opened forty-some years ago (and a couple of employees, too, who looked that old!) . . . but I found exactly what I was looking for, the price was right, and, above all, it was convenient.  And really, what more could one ask for from a liquor store anyway, right?

PhotobucketWell, over the years, we would stop by Century at least once a week, often more, and every few months, we’d seriously replenish our wine cellar.

We got to know many of the staff, and they knew our tastes almost as well as we did ourselves.  😉

Mike, the Vice President of the company, was always a great source of knowledge and full of suggestions – in fact, it was he who recommended the champagne for our wedding!

Century even comped tickets for us to their first Food & Wine Festival in 2005, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  We were actually interviewed for the D&C‘s article about the event – and boy did we feel special.  😉

Then the news came.  Sherwood Deutsch, president and owner of Century Liquor, was selling the business.  To Nichole Wegman.  Yes, THAT Wegman.

Um, OK.  Sherwood is about a hundred and fifty years old – I can see that he would want to retire and just work in an “advisory” capacity.  Not to worry, though.  The Company went to great lengths to assure the staff, and their customer base, that they weren’t going anywhere – everything would remain “business as usual.”

Then they “temporarily”  closed their doors for “renovations. “

They reopened after a couple of months, and, while there was some cosmetic stuff, well, let’s just say it caused some raised eyebrows.  😯

But then, New York is really funny about its liquor laws, so it probably had something to do with the company’s changing hands.  🙄

So Century Liquor re-opened, all bright and shiny, “under new ownership” with no intention of going anywhere.

PhotobucketThen they closed and moved to The East Side under the name Century Pittsford Wines.

Um, does that logo look at all familiar?

OUR Century has been assimilated.  😯

Anyway, all this was well over a year ago.  And meanwhile, the store, and, essentially the entire plaza, have stood empty for all that time.  😥

There was a hint of a rumor that Nichole’s brother-in-law (or something) was going to re-open the original store, or at least that was the story back when I was hanging around the Emergency Room for the better part of an afternoon back last summer. . . as evidenced my second or third time through the newspaper.  🙄


Then Peeps asked me whether I’d seen The Billboard.

A billboard?  I barely even look at those when I drive by them twice a day every single day of the week.  🙄Photobucket

“Well,” he said, “Century is re-opening on May 11.”

“Really?”  I said.

“That’s what the sign says,” he said.

“What sign?” I asked.

“The billboard,” he answered.

So I looked.  And by the time I finally saw it (duh, at the light I always get stuck sitting at!), they had changed the date from the 11th to the 21st.

Uh huh.   🙄Photobucket

And I made him drive by the old site, and sure enough, there was a sign in the formerly covered window that said that the “Grand Opening”  is indeed scheduled for the 21st.

And there are other signs up in the windows – just like the old Century used to have. . .

Could it be?

Then, in the Business section of last Sunday’s paper, we read an article about the new West Ridge Liquor that, well, I’ll be honest, it warmed my little heart.  😳

Let me sum up.

The guy who owns the plaza has watched not just Century, but two other businesses leave, and he’s got a bunch of rental space standing empty.

Nichole’s brother-in-law (or whatever he is) has obviously not come through.  Maybe it’s because of New York’s stupid need to control everything that anyone might want to do, and maybe he’s just a loser, but whatever.

So the plaza owner guy basically said, what they hey, and dumped a (HUGE) pile of his own money into getting licensed and getting inventory and is re-opening the liquor store himself.

He’s re-hiring old Century employees who evidently didn’t make the move to Pittsford, and he intends to keep the store as much “the same” as the ORIGINAL Century as is humanly possible.

And best of all, he’s not at all affiliated with the Wegman family – this is a guy doing what he can for his own neighborhood.

There was one comment to the D&C article which pretty much sums up our feelings:

rdg1954 wrote:

I used to buy wine at Century all the time. They had a great selection. When they moved to “the east side” it wouldn’t have been that much of a bother to drive out there,but I refuse. Why? Because Century was one of the things we had on the west side that was great. When they pulled up stakes and went over there, it was a slap in the face to everyone who supported them for all these years.

The Wegman family does wonderful things for this area. but moving Century over next to their flagship store was the same as telling Greece and the city that they just weren’t good enough.

I’ll support this new venture.

Let’s just hope there’s a happy ending to this story, shall we?

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