When Geresbeck's Food Market took over the former Lauer’s Supermarket and Bakery location in Riviera Beach in mid-October, it felt like a homecoming for the Greeley family.
Family patriarch Carl Greeley opened his first store, Foodland, in the Orchard Beach community in 1971. Since that time, he opened a few Box & Save stores and acquired the Geresbeck's Food Market in Baltimore in 1985, keeping the name because it was well-known to locals.
Carl placed emphasis on seafood, the deli and the bakery — along with top-notch customer service. With the help of his daughter, Joanne Greeley Graham, and grandson, Justin Graham, that is the same model he intends to have at the Pasadena store.
“He has always believed in customer service and making everything fresh,” Joanne said of her father. “He’d say, ‘If you wouldn’t take it home and put it on your table, it doesn’t go out [for sale].’”
At Geresbeck's Food Market, 90% of the salads are homemade. Produce, meats and seafood are purchased from local vendors.
“We have a crew that comes in overnight and makes all the salads,” Joanne said. “We do it that way at all three stores.”
Meat is cut fresh on the premises. Quick and convenient meals, like imperial stuffed salmon and chicken Chesapeake, are sold in sealed microwavable bags. Customers can also find prepared meals from the fresh salad bar, fried chicken, or get chicken wings and tacos for their tailgate parties.
When the Greeley family acquired the Riviera Beach location, they changed the colors from beige and blue to Gersebeck’s signature red and white. They also removed eight feet from most aisles to make the store roomier and to make space for a seafood department.
“It’s mainly crab meat and shrimp, but we also carry a wide variety of fish filets, snow crabs, lobsters, scallops and other seafood,” Justin said.
The Avenue News, which covers Essex and the surrounding area in Baltimore County, held its first reader-approved contest in 2019, with Geresbeck's being awarded Best Produce and Best Bakery. The store also won a Master Marketer Award from SUPERVALU in 2018 for its seafood.
The aisles of Geresbeck’s are filled with local brands: Ostrowski of Bank Street, Baugher's Farm, Zeke’s Coffee, Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, McCutcheon's Apple Products, Fisher's Popcorn and Roma Gourmet Sausage.
Customers also flock to the store for an array of specialty items such as marshmallow-filled doughnuts, crab pretzels topped with Bill Bateman’s crab dip, and eclairs that are so good, Joanne said, many local restaurants carry them on their dessert menus.
That variety of specialty foods is important to the family, as is being part of the community.
“We’ve always been community-oriented,” Justin said. “We do ice-cream eating contests and give free balloons to kids when we celebrate our store anniversaries.”
Joanne added, “Every Thanksgiving, we give pumpkin pies to the first 100 customers. Usually, customers line up at 4:00am and people play football in the parking lot while they wait.” Geresbeck’s also gives out 100 free watermelons on Labor Day.
Geresbeck’s supports the Ed Reed Foundation and The SEED School of Maryland, a statewide, college-preparatory, public boarding school. Partnering with the Ed Reed Foundation, Jimmy’s Seafood and J.J. McDonnell, Geresbeck’s supplied students with 600 turkeys and over 1,200 sides like sauerkraut, pumpkin pie, and corn this Thanksgiving.
Carl, whom family members affectionately call “Pop,” taught his family from a young age the importance of giving back. Justin started with the family business when he was 16. Joanne started with her dad at age 12.
“He would wake me up every Saturday and Sunday and ask me, ‘Are you ready to go?’” Joanne recalled. “He would have me count pennies from the gumball machine. As I got older, I learned to work in every department throughout the store. My father always said, ‘If you don’t know how to do the job yourself, you can’t expect to tell someone else how to do it.’”
Now the family has come full circle with a store in Pasadena and as members of the Pasadena Business Association. Even though Carl turns 90 years old in February, he works four to five days per week and has the help of his family, who continue to carry on the Geresbeck’s legacy.
“We’re thrilled to be in Pasadena,” Joanne said. “We’re family-owned, third-generation, and that’s the way it will stay.”
Geresbeck's is located at 8489 Fort Smallwood Road. Store hours are 7:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Sunday. Geresbeck's closes at 6:00pm Christmas Eve and is closed Christmas day.