The Crown Market, the first kosher market in Connecticut, celebrated its 80th anniversary last year. Sam Smith, Sam Sowalsky and Meyer Goldfield established the market on Albany Avenue between Magnolia Street and Irving Street in Hartford in 1940.
Over the years, the kosher market adapted to changes and overcame difficult: It survived demographic shifts that pushed the store to a new location (West Hartford) in 1967, it rebuilt after a fire in 1970, it stayed open despite financial constraints that nearly shut it down in 2014, and it adapted to life during the pandemic in 2020.
When their loyal customers heard about the imminent shutdown back in 2014, they took quick action and two weeks later, a group of Jewish community investors breathed new life into the business. In February of that year, the Connecticut Jewish Ledger quoted a customer’s description of what the Crown Market meant for her, “It was a social event—it was almost like going to a kiddush or meeting in Keney Park after shul on the High Holidays,” she recalls. “You’d never know whom you’d see, but it was always friendly faces, familiar faces. It was like family. It was a ritual to go there for Pesach, for Rosh Hashana… You didn’t have a High Holiday if you didn’t go to the Crown."
In recent years, The Crown Market has been working to sustain business by extending more services to more markets. One new and exciting venture from the Crown is Royal Catering and Events, a full-service catering department with a start-to-finish event-management that can handle events of any size. Royal Catering is a dream-come-true for Connecticut Kosher Catering market; a vision made possible by the hiring of Executive Chef Andrea Gussak in 2018, and Catering Director Meredith Abel-Berei earlier this year. Andrea is the daughter of Margery Gussak, who owned and operated her Manchester-based kosher catering company for 35 years. Abel-Berei owned and operated Abel Caterers, continuing her father’s legacy of 45 years. The Crown Market had the vision to hire these two trusted experts as soon as they became available and establish a “dream team” to serve Connecticut kosher catering needs.
In Greater New Haven, The Crown will operate Café 360 at the JCC. Soon to follow will be the opportunity to order extended Crown menu items for pickup at Cafe 360. Jewish Federation CEO Judy Alperin said, "We are thrilled to welcome The Crown Market back to New Haven and to partner with local Jewish community leader, Meredith Abel to provide the high-quality products and services our community expects from Café 360. As more and more opens up in our Center, we know that Café 360 will become the hub of bustling activity it was before the pandemic closed its doors and we can't wait to welcome everyone back." The Greater New Haven Jewish community benefitted from the Crown Market at its Whalley Avenue location from 1985 to 2004 and looks forward to welcoming them back.