Curation Story

Curation Story

At the southwest corner of State and Edwards, the words “Flynn’s Grocery / Specialty Foods,” printed on the window, might get lost in what’s behind or before them, but you can’t miss the black and white-striped awning around the corner or the red doors and blue mini moped beneath. Inside, a hot air balloon motif, old metal milk cans, what might be a stuffed pheasant, a rooster print and a cuckoo clock suggest connections to farming and both the inner and outer child.

Opened in August 2021 by Andrew Hotis and Michelle Chadwick-Hotis, also the owners of Bar August nearby, Flynn’s Grocery is, like the bar, named for one of their two sons. Indeed, for the kids, there’s a welcoming play area featuring train tracks, colorful horses to sit on and a deluxe retrofuturist kiddie kitchen. But adults will find more fun in the curated selection of attractively packaged and arranged gourmet foods sourced from all over the world.

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As jazzy music sung in French wafted in the background, the first thing to catch my eye was a display of Tim Tams, a favorite Australian cookie or, as an Aussie would say, “biscuit.” Soon I was taking in a heap of jarred pickles, olives and sauces in a red Radio Flyer Wagon and caramel walnuts and black walnut rim salt tucked near a large variety of teas. A small selection of seasonal, local produce looked impeccably coifed near shelves of pastas, tomato sauces, vinegars and imported canned seafood including sardines, octopus, mussels, clams and cockles. Freezer cases stocked with meats like pheasant sausage and ground wild boar as well as pints of Van Leeuwen and Nightingale ice cream sandwiches sat across from a baby and toddler gift area with bibs, feeding sets, books and stuffed animals.

A cheese case and a chocolate stand enjoyed pride of place near the center of the store. For both, the owners try to keep customers’ favorite brands while switching in new options. Meredith Magenheim, the manager, identifies herself as a big cheese lover. “I think we have a nice variety of different styles, different milks, different regions that they’re from,” she says of the 39 options available that day. “There’s something for everybody, strong or mild, hard or soft.” Speaking of everybody, one of the baskets in the store displays dog treats, good for East Rock’s many dog walkers. Also, on weekends, the appeal is amped even further with breads and pastries from foodie favorite Isabelle et Vincent, a traditional French bakery in Fairfield.

Magenheim sums up the approach behind Flynn’s by quoting Hotis: “It has everything you don’t need but never knew you wanted.” So if you stop by, consider it a chance to explore the unknown.

Flynn’s Grocery
982 State St, New Haven (map)
Tues-Sat noon-7pm, Sun 11am-2pm

Written and photographed by Heather Jessen.

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