Jerusalem International Grocery is open to serve a growing international community that has, until now, been traveling hours to surrounding cities to find kosher foods.
As a native of Jerusalem and the owner of other local businesses, Rafat Mardawi said last winter, he saw a business opportunity when he realized how many people in the Cape Region were making long trips to surrounding cities to get foods native to their cultures.
'There's a lot of Jewish, Turkish, Muslim and Greek people who live here and they have to drive to New Jersey, New York or even Philadelphia to buy groceries and come back," Mardawi said.
He hopes to make those trips unnecessary. Jerusalem International Grocery, in Tenley Square on Route 1 southbound, is completely kosher, offering products that range from Russian and French sheep's milk dairy products to pure olive oil, beer breads and pickles. Most of these foods are unavailable outside larger metropolitan areas, Mardawi said.
Shoppers may find similar foods in conventional area grocery stores, Mardawi said, but they are not quite the same as authentic Egyptian rice or Israeli coffee.
"This is Turkish coffee," he said. "That is a strong, strong coffee. And we have the Israeli brands of coffee."
The store also carries spices such as sumac, roasted thyme and sesame seeds that Mardawi said are unavailable locally, but they make the difference for cooks who want to make an authentic dish.
As an international grocer who specializes in many foods that were otherwise hit-or-miss at other staores, Mardawi said he can give his customers better prices as well. "Tahini is much cheaper here," he said.
His clientele has so far been a mix of native-born Americans from big cities who missed the diverse selections they are accustomed to and locals who wanted to expose themselves to new foods.
"I expected to get a lot of nationalities for my customers at first," he said. "But 90 percent are local Americans."
Long Neck residents Heather and Ashley Smith recently stopped into the grocery for the first time.
Heather said they stopped in to buy stuffed grape leaves and taramisalata, a Greek a fish egg salad. Many distinctive Greek foods have been unavailable or priced outrageously in Sussex County until now, she said.
"We were looking for Greek food; our family is Greek," Heather said. "We rarely see these foods, or they are too expensive."
The owners said they are also open to making special orders of any foods they don't already carry, so as business increases, they are willing to accommodate requests as well while they learn what other foods people are missing.
Jerusalem International Grocery is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily in Tenley Square on Route 1 southbound. For more information, call 302-644-1700.