Bishops Corner Business

Crown Market Will Continue Legacy but New Owners Plan Updates

Crown Market, at 2471 Albany Avenue is under new ownership, with planned updates that will continue to honor the iconic store's legacy. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Crown Market in West Hartford is under new ownership, and with a motto of ‘What’s best for the guest,’ they pledge to continue the store’s legacy yet implement long-desired updates.

Crown Market managing partners Khen Raviv (left) and Debra Raviv, and co-owner Yitz Rabinowitz. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

It’s Monday morning, with nearly five full days before the start of Rosh Hashanah, but Debra and Khen Raviv, West Hartford residents and the new managing partners of Crown Market, are already busily supervising the preparation of more than 350 orders that have already been placed for the High Holidays. They want to be sure the customer experience is outstanding.

Since June, Crown Market has been under the ownership of Triple Crown Group LLC – a partnership between Yitz Rabinowitz, Avi Berger, and Ahron Bellar from Kosher World in Waterbury as well as the Ravivs – and the new ownership team pledges to preserve the elements that have endeared Crown to the community since 1940, yet also provide some important enhancements that people have been asking for.

“Iconic” is a word that can, and should, be used to describe Crown Market. Many of the employees have been there for decades, and the store has been a fixture in West Hartford’s Bishops Corner neighborhood (it’s been located at 2471 Albany Avenue since the 1960s) and for the Jewish community in the Greater Hartford area and beyond.

A collage of photos from the early days of Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“We’re not going to make changes in terms of its legacy,” Debra Raviv said. “We’ve been in the community for more than 75 years. We want to embrace the community.”

Raviv was born and raised in West Hartford, and is a graduate of Hall High School. She went to Syracuse University and then studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

“I’ve been in hospitality my whole life,” she said. While she’s done a lot of catering, however, Raviv said she “didn’t see grocery on the horizon.” But, she said, she is very hands-on, with a background that gives her a sense of the “pulse of the community.”

Many may recall Debra and Khen Raviv as the owners of Mediza, a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant that they operated at 35 LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center. Khen Raviv is a native of Israel, and they made the decision to close the restaurant to spend several years living in Israel with their children.

When they returned to West Hartford the Ravivs launched the Toasted Food Truck – a staple at Celebrate! West Hartford for many years. That food truck will also play a role in the future plans and will be rebranded with the Crown name. It’s already been kashered – made kosher – and has been used recently for a Chabad event.

One of the first things Debra Raviv did when she became a managing partner of Crown Market was add outdoor seating, where customers can enjoy a deli sandwich like (corned beef on rye at right) or Chicken Shawarma. Photo credit Ronni Newton

What’s already new at Crown Market, and what’s on the horizon

The ownership change was effective in June, and the Ravivs have been managing the store since May.

“A lot has changed already,” Debra said, as they have been reimagining, redesigning, and cleaning up the store.

“We have more gluten-free, health conscious, and international items,” she said. There’s also a floral section that has been added.

Crown Market now has a floral department. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

She said there’s already been an uptick in business.

As soon as the High Holidays are over, there are some other significant updates coming.

There are frequently discussions on social media of the type of business that West Hartford needs, and “Jewish deli” is often tops on that list. What Crown Market will be creating will be very close to that dream.

The new cafe, being created where aisles 1 and 2 are currently located in the back of the store near the 5 O’Clock Shop, will have nine tables and seating for 36. You’ll be able to sit down and eat a deli sandwich, or anything else that’s available as grab and go in the refrigerators or elsewhere, and spend time in a space that is going to have a visual separation from the rest of the store. They are adding pendant lighting, and there will be Wi-Fi available.

Corned beef on rye with lettuce, tomato, and thousand island, with a deli pickle will be one of many dishes that can be eaten in the cafe. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“There are already four tables and chairs outside. That’s the first thing I did,” Debra said.

Technology is being updated as well. There will be two self-checkouts installed, and online ordering will be available.

“The changes are subtle, but they’re really impactful,” Debra said. “We are committed to the vibrancy of West Hartford – and beyond. We are in this for the long haul – committed, listening, and taking suggestions.”

The sushi, which is very popular, can be ordered in advance by phone. And they are planning to offer kosher Chinese food in the evenings.

Sushi being prepared at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crown Market will also be collaborating with other local businesses. While they can’t sell wine, they are planning some tastings of kosher wines in the store.

Other planned events include food demos and a book signing with the author of a book on Challah baking.

Crown’s famous tuna salad is a favorite, but they have much more to offer. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“We’re way more than tuna salad,” said Debra, noting that Crown’s famed tuna salad is a draw for many shoppers, but there is much more to choose from – and will be an even broader array of offerings.

They plan to start selling fish – salmon, cod, and likely another white fish – after the holidays.

The produce section will be expanded, and will move to the front of the store, while the bakery will move to the corner where it was originally located.

Bakery at Crown Market, 2471 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crown Market already has fresh produce, but will expand the offerings and relocate it to the front of the store. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A “Shuk” – an Israeli market – will be be added. There, shoppers will find dried fruits, nuts by the bulk, spices, candy, and more.

The logo will get a bit of a rebranding, too. The Crown isn’t going away, but it will include the words “Quality Kosher.”

The space where aisles 1 and 2 are currently located will become the cafe at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kosher certification

The certification as a kosher market is extremely important to Crown, but the store’s reach extends far beyond those who keep kosher or are Jewish.

In the basement are three separate kitchens – meat, dairy, and parve (neutral) – overseen by chefs with decades of experience.

There are three full-time butchers overseeing the meat department, which is one of the biggest pieces of the store’s operation.

Marinated brisket is available at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Currently the Crown Market is certified kosher under HKC (Hartford Kashruth Commission) supervision, but soon will be under STAR-K supervision, Debra said. The internationally-recognized organization has already come in and trained staff, and the certification should be forthcoming.

But while Crown will be certified to meet even the most rigorous of kosher requirements, it will still remain a store that’s accessible to anyone in the community.

“Our 5 O’Clock Shop does a phenomenal business,” Debra said. Their full-service catering is comprehensive and is great for events of all types.

Crown Market sells a lot of challah – both with and without raisins. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Customer appreciation

“Khen and I, we understand the customer service aspect,” Debra said. Their motto: “What’s best for the guest.”

The managing partners start with their relationship with the employees, making all feel part of the team.

“We have a great staff, so much longevity,” said Debra. Mark Seltzer has been there for 32 years, Mike Hanson for about 24 years.

Greeting people, saying thank you, are critically important, she said.

“People always remember how you made them feel.”

Khen, she said, brings a unique vibe to his role. As a native of Israel, he brings a “different authenticity,” she said.

With the addition of a hot bar, Khen has already brought Chicken Shawarma to the 5 O’Clock Shop – a Middle Eastern dish that’s appealing to the non-Jewish crowd as well. He’s taught the employees his own special twist to the dish, which involves placing fries (or chips, as he calls them) inside the pita pocket with the chicken and other ingredients.

Chicken Shawarma – with chips (fries) inside the pita pocket is a dish that Khen Raviv has brought to Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The 5 O’Clock Shop is a popular destination for grab and go foods at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

For the holidays

As of Monday morning, Crown Market already had more than 350 orders for Rosh Hashanah and it was all-hands-on-deck putting together cardboard boxes.

Pick-up is available in the store on Thursday and Friday.

Brisket is the most popular item in their Rosh Hashanah orders, and Debra said they’re preparing more than 500 pounds this year. Other menu items include roasted chicken, Moroccan salmon, chicken soup with matzoh balls, chicken liver, arugula salad with pomegranates, kugel, and lots of honey cakes.

Along with brisket, Moroccan salmon is one of the most popular items on the Rosh Hashanah order list at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“And a ton of challah,” said Debra, both regular and with raisins.

The orders aren’t all from locals, however. On Sunday, they had already made a delivery to Woodbridge, and planned deliveries to Albany, NY as well as Worcester and Framingham, MA.

Multiple varieties of kugel are being prepared for Rosh Hashanah orders at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Eventual plans

Right now the plan is to implement innovations in West Hartford, but there may be plans to further expand Crown Market’s reach in the future. “We are setting it up so it can be duplicatable,” Debra said.

Crown Market nearly closed in 2014, but the investors who rescued the business oversaw significant renovations that were completed in the fall of 2016.

Fostering partnerships, understanding what customers want, is the last piece of the puzzle, Debra said. “We need [customers to] come here because they know we care about them.”

Yitz Rabinowitz, one of the owners, noted that they envision Crown “not only as a place to purchase high-quality kosher products but also as a community hub that fosters connections and celebrations,” adding to the vibrancy of the town and the region.

And the Ravivs, who bring their hospitality background and experience to the role as managing partners, “will be instrumental in helping us bring the Crown Market to the next level,” Rabinowitz said.

“We are confident that it will not only remain a cherished destination but will also become a beacon of inspiration and excellence in the realm of kosher markets,” said Rabinowitz.

The 5 O’Clock Shop is a popular destination for grab and go foods at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sushi is a popular item at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton


Brisket being prepared in the meat kitchen in the basement of Crown Market. For the holidays, more than 500 pounds was ordered. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crown Market is currently under HKC kosher supervision, but will soon have the STAR-K designation. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Meat department at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Stuffed portobello mushrooms being prepared in the kitchen of Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Stuffed portabello mushroom from Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Racks of prepared foods in the kitchen of Crown Market, 2471 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bakery at Crown Market, 2471 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Just some of the boxes that have been put together for Rosh Hashanah orders at Crown Market. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Bakery at Crown Market, 2471 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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  • Please go to a store in Forest Hills Queens, called Carmel. They have ALL the great stuff from israel. Bring some here!
    Good luck!!!

  • Thank you for all the info, as a former west hartford resident,now of Florida, (a snowbird), these stories keep us well informed.

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