By Claudie Benjamin
24 year old Moe Nagi is part owner of the newly opened Hungry & Healthy Marketplace on West 72nd Street. Moe started college in Fresno CA and is completing his degree remotely at NJ City University. Moe’s father Najid, also a partner, plays a key role in the newly opened eatery, which is a more elaborate version of the deli they opened in 2020 on 11th Avenue West 57th Street. The partners’ families are from Yemen. Early on, Moe’s father was in the military. He came to the US after being wounded and tried his hand at many jobs in NYC. He met with his first real success when Hungry & Healthy Marketplace took off at its first location.
Another partner is Ahmed Naji (unrelated to Moe and his father). He is still in high school, but he talks knowledgeably and enthusiastically about the concept and goals of Hungry & Healthy Marketplace’s 72nd Street location, which opened at 163 West 72nd Street in early August 2021. Ahmed’s older brother Nabeel, a 21-year old Baruch College student is also a business partner and the two brothers are very much immersed in the day-to-day operations of the store and the commitment to providing outstanding customer service. The newly opened deli/eatery, which is a larger, more elaborate version of the smaller West 57th Street location.
On entering the Hungry and Healthy Marketplace, the enticing and unmistakable smell of fresh pressed oranges fills the air. Fresh juices and smoothies are among the shop’s many specialties.
Overall, energy and optimism are part of the feel of the 72nd street business, which is committed to freshness and cleanliness. Light, bright and spacious the space is inviting and “grab and go” selections are inviting in this place that embraces the idea of healthy nourishment on the run. “We’re thinking about fresh produce every day, every minute, every second,” says Moe. The first level of the two level deli offers juices, waters and sodas, a large variety of snacks and all your favorite classic deli sandwiches. In addition, a wide selection of pastries are displayed upfront if you want to balance out your salad selection with a sweet.
Upstairs is where you go if you want to combine a lunch purchase with acquiring household essentials like paper towels, cleaning products, and mops, Swiffers, and brooms. Grocery items are sold as well.
There’s some seating upstairs, but the plan to prepare and serve hot food was put on hold after the gas in this building, as in a number of others in the neighborhood was shut down. While waiting for an inspection to allow for gas cooking, Moe and his partners have proceeded undaunted. “We swallowed the loss and invested in all the electric.”
Menu-wise, online ordering for pickup or delivery provides an even greater choice of options than are available in the shop. “This allows for menu items that may take longer to prepare than while a customer is waiting. Also, customers can take their time to choose,” says Moe.
The deli has only been open a few weeks and neighborhood customers haven’t been coming forward yet with suggestions. But, Moe anticipates there will be suggestions. “I can’t wait. Our neighbors are paying our salaries and we want them to be pleased.”
And, for himself, what would he pick for a grab & go lunch? Moe laughs and without hesitation shares his favorite; “I’d get a tuna sandwich, an Evolution cold pressed drink and Deep River Chips.”