Norfolk community celebrates change in 'food desert' of Berkley

berkley grocery store.jpg
Posted at 3:28 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 16:52:06-04

NORFOLK, Va. – The Berkley community came together on Friday to celebrate the announcement of a new grocery store expected to open soon in what’s being called a food desert.

Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander was among the speakers. He introduced Mary Zachary, who lives just around the corner from where Farm Fresh closed last year. Zachary is wheelchair-bound and says it’s a safety issue not having a nearby grocery store.

“I would have had to go six lanes of highway to get back home in a wheelchair, and that’s not safe,” explained Zachary. “Anything worth having is worth fighting for; that’s the way I feel.”

Norfolk leaders say an agreement between the city and the owner provides a $500,000 grant for the store.

Berkley Supermarket is veteran-owned by the Palmer family. Michael Palmer came here from the Caribbean about 30 years ago because of the Navy. He runs a Caribbean restaurant and grocery store and is excited to have his son, Esron, take the lead on the new store on Berkley Avenue.

“We bring nothing but quality. We bring nothing but good customer service,” said Michael Palmer.

The Palmers say it will be a full-service grocery store that will include a selection of fresh seafood and a soul food cafeteria-style restaurant.

Brenda Chatman says she was born and raised in the Berkley neighborhood. She’s excited to see the anticipated change.

“It’s a blessing. It’s long-awaited. And I thank God that He made a way we could get a grocery store in our community.”

The owners of the store say Berkley Supermarket will have a soft opening on August 12 and a grand opening in September. They expect to hire about 60 employees. It’s located at 201 E. Berkley Avenue.