The backyard grilling season is now in full swing, and with a rain-free weather forecast and temperatures between 85 and 90 degrees expected for the Independence Day weekend, area supermarkets and grocery stores are seeing a brisk business.
Bob Van Allen, the manager of Greulich’s Market on Carman Road in Guilderland, said each Fourth of July is a little different because it always falls on a different day, and many customers plan different activities year to year. But this year, favorable weather means more hot dogs, ground beef and steaks flying off the shelves.
“The weather should be perfect this weekend,” Van Allen said. “A key part of the deal with this is the weather.”
Van Allen said White Eagle hot dogs, which are made in Schenectady, are normally a popular brand and he’s had trouble keeping up with the demand, even though they take a hard look at the extended forecast before making orders.
“We had to reorder them a day early this week,” he said, while noting that the hot dogs are on sale.
Van Allen added that T-bone and Porterhouse steaks have also been very popular grilling choices this year, along with store-made potato and macaroni salads.
For Greulich’s, the summer grilling season got off to a good start because of favorable weather on Memorial Day weekend, and the momentum hasn’t let up, according to Van Allen.
“Memorial Day was much better than last year, when it rained all weekend. This year, the stuff flew out of here,” Van Allen said. He also said business was good for graduation season, which is now winding down.
Rob Sincluna, manager of the meat department at Gabriel’s market on Mohawk Avenue in Scotia, said brisk sales this week are a continuation of a trend that began at the outset of the recession two years ago.
“Restaurants are struggling. More people are cooking at home, and they’ve discovered they can get high-quality steaks and beef at a reasonable price by coming here,” he said.
Sincluna says that while chicken and hamburger meat comprise anywhere from two-thirds to three-fourths of sales in his department in the week leading up to Independence Day, the sunny and hot forecast has led to increased sales of another item: clams.
“If the weather is rainy, no one buys them because you have to cook them outside,” Sincluna noted, while adding sales were “definitely better” because of the good weather on Memorial Day weekend this year compared to last.
Sincluna says White Eagle hot dogs are also a popular choice with Gabriel’s customers, along with Dueshammer, Nathan’s and First Prize. The store grinds its own beef and makes its own hamburger patties, according to Sincluna.
Meanwhile, Pam Blasting, meat department manager at Niskayuna Co-op on Nott Street near Route 146, reports that they’re out of Hebrew National franks, which had been on sale.
Blasting says a shipment is expected to arrive at 6 a.m. today.
Store general manager Donald Bisgrove said sales on traditional 4th of July meat and deli items “have been fantastic. The deli has been nonstop.” Bisgrove added that in-bone chicken breasts, clams, southern corn-on-the-cob and watermelon have also been big sellers.
Bisgrove said the weather forecast, combined with the fact that the store will be closed on Sunday for the holiday, may force him to add extra staff Saturday.
“With the weather getting warmer, we may get hammered,” he said.
Blasting said business had already started to pick up in the middle of the week, even though temperatures cooled down considerably.
“Our slowest day is normally Wednesday, but this week we were busy,” she said.
Fran Orlando of Burnt Hills was shopping Thursday afternoon at Niskayuna Co-op. Orlando said she was getting ready for a Fourth of July barbecue at her home, which she described as an annual event for her family. Orlando had packages of steaks piled in her cart, along with several loaves of Italian bread. She said she’s been a member of Niskayuna Co-op for 25 years.
“I get all of my meats here. They’re the best,” Orlando said of the Co-op.
It may actually be your patriotic duty to eat some hot dogs, wash them down with some beer and top it off with ice cream this weekend.
July is National Hot Dog Month and National Ice Cream Month, while the Independence Day holiday period is the No. 1 occasion for sales and consumption of beer in the U.S., according to the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council says Americans will eat some 150 million hot dogs on Independence Day, enough to stretch from Washington to Los Angeles more than five times.