A new grocery store, Ideal Food Basket, is set to replace Ahart’s Market on Bethlehem’s Southside. The supermarket will likely open in July or August of 2022, according to co-owner of Ideal Food Basket Kevin Luna.
In April 2021, Ahart’s Market, being one of two grocery stores on Bethlehem’s Southside, permanently closed. This closure further solidified the USDA’s classification of South Bethlehem as a “food desert,” with only one grocery store, C-Town, operating on the Southside for the past year.
Luna is an owner of multiple markets in the Lehigh Valley, including C-Town. He said Ideal Food Basket will be located in the former Ahart’s address on Montclair Avenue.
“It’s going to be a brand-new store, everything’s going to be brand new,” Luna said. “We’re going to have a bakery, we’re going to do some cooking (and) we’re going to have beer and wine.”
Luna said there will be similarities between Ideal Food Basket and C-Town, but they are trying to modify the store to fit the needs of the area.
Jacqueline Payne, a Lehigh County resident, said she is a frequent shopper at C-Town. She said her primary concern about C-Town is its parking.
“I don’t like the congestion of parking,” Payne said. “The parking lot is way too small.”
Payne said she is willing to shop at Ideal Food Basket once it opens, provided the grocery store is less congested than C-Town.
Luna said the two stores will have different grocery providers, so there will be a variety of items. Ideal Food Basket will feature more organic items, produce and meat options. Luna said the goal for Ideal Food Basket is to be similar to GIANT Food Store.
“Mostly we’re trying to get more students and accommodate that section of Bethlehem,” Luna said. “So, we’re trying to make a little bit of a difference with some organic products and that kind of stuff.”
Sachi Williams, ’25, said she primarily uses Instacart for groceries, but occasionally shops at C-Town.
“I wouldn’t call (C-Town’s selection) amazing,” Williams said. “They don’t have a lot of snack options.”
Williams said C-Town does not have everything she needs, and she would be open to trying Ideal Food Basket.
She said there are not many grocery stores within walking distance of Lehigh’s campus and she hopes Ideal Food Basket will be accessible for her to shop at.
Luna said the store wants to serve the community, and they plan on aiding Lehigh students by becoming a participating merchant for Lehigh’s GoldPLUS program.
Luna said Ideal Food Basket will also sell alcohol, which C-Town does not currently offer.
Bethlehem City Council recently approved a liquor license transfer for Ideal Food Basket.
He said the addition of an alcohol section will accomodate the needs of more customers.
Although the store is set to open in the summer, Luna said there is not an exact date, due to a national shortage of their needed equipment.
“We have all the major components, which is great,” Luna said. “But there’s always something here and there, (so) we are expecting to be delayed most likely. We have … the freezers, the cases, the compressors, the shelves. We’re very fortunate that we ordered that a year ago. We were very proactive in doing that early when we bought the property.”
Luna said if Ideal Food Basket is able to open in the summer, they plan on starting to hire employees in mid-June.
“I’m hoping (Ideal Food Basket) is going to be a positive experience because we’re going to cater to the community,” Luna said. “Whatever we don’t have, we are going to try to accommodate.”