Hurlock Food Rite holds grand re-opening

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The Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Hurlock Council Member Bonnie Franz cut the ribbon as Mayor Joyce Spratt held the balloons at the Grand Re-Opening of the town’s Food Rite. The festive occasion included: from left, owner Harry Patel, Councilman Earl Murphy, Mayor Spratt, Ms. Franz, and Varnish Patel.

HURLOCK — The festive atmosphere this past Saturday at the Grand Re-Opening of the Hurlock Food Rite was heightened by balloons, food, and drinks offered at tables in front of the store plus canapés passed to guests. Owner Harry Patel has totally renovated the building he originally rented 15 years ago. Purchased in August 2011, Harry began the first step in making the small, well-stocked market a great place to shop. He changed the lights, floor, ceiling, and planned to gradually replace all the coolers.

This year he made the alterations he had envisioned since he opened the store. The supermarket is almost complete. Only a cooler installation and some insulation remain to finish. He says proudly, “It seems to me everything looks good.”

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The Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Hurlock Food Rite owner Harry Patel was the man of the hour at the June 13 Grand Re-Opening of his store.

A man with Harry’s enthusiasm for his town and his store is always thinking ahead.  Who knows what will come next? Harry does. He has big plans to begin delivery service in the near future.

Councilman Earl Murphy is one of Harry’s biggest cheerleaders. He was eager to discuss his friend’s latest innovation – a delivery service for housebound seniors, working families, or anyone else who wants to order groceries via the internet or by telephone. The internet service is not yet available but it soon will be. In the meantime, beginning June 20, customers can simply call to order groceries. “It makes him a unique business in Hurlock and surrounding areas,” said Councilman Murphy.

Harry’s father, 77-year-old Bahgu Patel, is visiting from India and plans to stay in the U.S. until October. He will return to his village, Kasor, with its population of 17,000. It is easy to see where Harry gets his extrovert personality and connection to people – from his dad. Asked if would agree to having his picture taken, his response was immediate – “oh, yes, please take it.” Posing with his grandfather, Harry’s 18-year-old son, called Deep, is a North Dorchester High School graduate who plans to become a pharmacist. Working quietly alongside her husband and son, Harry’s wife Varnish is a prime mover in the store’s success and transformation.

Mayor Joyce Spratt cut the ribbon alongside Council Member Bonnie Franz. “I’m so excited about the re-opening,” she said. “Harry’s done so many things inside to improve the place. It’s like brand new.” She hopes townspeople will support the store. “If they would just stop in to see the improvements they will have a whole different idea of what the store is.”

Aside from his pride in and love of his store, Harry is devoted to Hurlock. Although trained as an electrical engineer, Harry realized his long-held dream of opening a market in this small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “I came into town,” he says, “and got a lot of support. Today I don’t have any problems and I’m never going to go anywhere else, let me tell you that. I’ve decided I’m going to die in this town. I get so much love and a lot of support. Everybody cooperates; the Mayor, Council, citizens.”

Harry shows his affection for his community in concrete ways; the most recent is a $500 contribution to the volunteer fire department. He says, “We were going to do some advertising but my son said, ‘why do we have to spend $500 more on advertising?’ So the money goes instead to the fire department to help them buy a new truck.” Why?  Because, he says, “Out of a possible 10, Hurlock is a 9.”

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The Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Three generations of the Patel family were represented at the June 13 Grand Re-Opening of the Hurlock Food Rite as Harry’s father Bahgu and his son Deep enjoyed the event.

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