Leah Harrison is a reporter and copy editor for the Atlanta Jewish Times.
Photo by Leah R. Harrison
Moses Bester is checking the Passover inventory list twice at the Kroger at the Toco Hill Shopping Center.
On a Passover shopping spree last year, I met a woman from South Carolina who had driven to Kroger at the Toco Hill Shopping Center to get her holiday items. She makes the same pilgrimage annually.
Why does she drive so far for kosher-for-Passover food for her family? For the variety and selection.
The Kroger at 2205 LaVista Road is in an area known as an epicenter of observant Jewish life in Atlanta. To service the needs of the Toco Hills community, the store has more than 600 items in an expansive section designated for Passover shopping, in addition to seven fully stocked kosher-for-Passover freezer cases and a large refrigerated dairy section.
The offerings of holiday-specific wines increase each year.
In early March, several busy stockers were neatly perfecting displays and double-checking items against a 16-page inventory after the delivery of a second large truckload. Eight people had been filling shelves full time the two days prior.
One of the stockers said he thinks the Kroger Passover selection is not only the largest in Atlanta, but “probably the biggest south of Baltimore and north of Boca.”
So it may come as no surprise that the store draws Passover shoppers from six states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Betzalel Yochanan, the kosher foods manager at the supermarket, said the Passover order goes in around November. This year the store started stocking the Passover shelves seven to eight weeks out and will constantly fill in items until the holiday.
There is an air of mutual appreciation between the store and the surrounding Jewish community. Chaya Leah Starkman, who was at Kroger doing her Passover shopping early, before the shelves were depleted, said: “Betzalel does a really, really good job. He brings in great items. … He’s a gem. He’s very dedicated, and if you want a product, he’ll get it for you. He’s really done a lot for the Kosher section.”
Glynn Jenkins, the public relations director for Kroger’s Atlanta Division, said he believes the Toco Hills and Fountain Oaks stores provide two of the largest kosher-for-Passover selections in Atlanta. “We appreciate and value our loyal customers and will continue to expand our different lines of kosher products in our Kroger Atlanta stores.”