Grocery offers exotic variety

Posted: March 2, 2013

Andrea Poe of Winchester shops for the ingredients to make her Thai red curry at the FoodMaxx International Food grocery store on Berryville Avenue in Winchester. Below, a shopper looks at a package of dried anchovies in the frozen-food section. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Sandra Stickovitch once drove all the way to Northern Virginia to buy the dough shells she uses to make empanadas.

“I couldn’t find them here,” the Berryville resident said.

That was before Stickovitch discovered the FoodMaxx in Winchester.

She now pops into the international grocery store on a regular basis.

“I’m so glad it’s here,” Stickovitch said Thursday as she shopped at the Berryville Avenue business for ingredients for pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish made with thick corn tortillas.

She also proudly produced from her shopping basket a bottle of Ramune, an Asian soda that her young son Benji loves.

“You pop the top and a marble comes down and causes the fizz effect,” Stickovitch said with a big smile. “The things they have you won’t find in most grocery stores.”

FoodMaxx — Winchester’s only full-scale international grocery — opened about 17 months ago in Eastgate Plaza.

“This is our first location,” said general manager Billy Han, adding that the area’s diverse population appealed to the fledgling business, which is owned by Selecta Foods Inc.

A second FoodMaxx location will open in the spring in Harrisonburg.

“Business has been good,” said Han, 31.

Customers come from a 60-mile radius to shop at the Winchester store, which features shelves filled with a dizzying array of exotic foods and spices in colorful packages.

“We definitely carry items that you can’t find at other grocery stores,” Han said as he walked along the aisles pointing out a variety of merchandise.

Though FoodMaxx stocks some staples, it specializes in Hispanic, Caribbean, Asian, Indian and African foods. It also carries at least 30 varieties of fresh fish — ranging from octopus to shark — and has a butcher on site.

Walking past the meat case, Han noted the goat meat and oxtail.

Fresh produce is one of the store’s biggest draws, because prices are low and the selection is unusual, Han said. “I see people come in all the time just for produce.”

Indian bittermelon, Thai eggplant, Chinese okra, cactus leaf and kohlrabi are just a few of the offerings.

“We get a lot of requests,” Han added. “If we can get it, we bring it in.”

Food Maxx also has large selections of rice, noodles, sauces, teas and snack foods.

“Kids are always running into the store asking for Takis,” Han said of the flavored tortilla snacks that resemble rolled tacos. “They hit it big.”

Stickovitch, who grew up eating international fare as the daughter of Washington, D.C., restaurateurs, said she is “grateful” for FoodMaxx.

“It’s like being in a candy store.”

FoodMaxx is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 1107 Berryville Ave. in Winchester. Call 540-722-4604.