PHOTO: The bids are in to see who will take over the smaller Lindenwood location after the Cross Bay Boulevard store was sold to Stop and Shop. File Photo.
Stranded in a supermarket “swamp” for years, residents of Howard Beach may soon have reason to cheer.
News broke this week that the parent company of Waldbaum’s, A&P, will return to bankruptcy court, signaling, according to economists and by experts in the field, the end of the oldest chain of supermarkets in American history.
The former Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company has travelled this road before, filing for bankruptcy back in 2012.
The road back from that Chapter 11 was paved with promises according to one employee, who spoke to The Forum on the condition his name not be used in print. “Promises of a “new” store; of renovations, expanded and specialty product lines, concentrations on customer service,” he said. And as a neighborhood waited patiently, and plans to launch a proposed $7 million face-lift, were continually “pushed. First from August, then to November, then to the last date , as recently as January,” the source said.
But just as many residents had almost given up, the words they have been waiting to hear for years, are spreading like wildfire– “You’re getting a new supermarket!”
A&P has reportedly cut a deal for the Cross Bay location and is close to an agreement for the location in the Lindenwood Shopping Center.
The company which owns almost 300 grocery stores operating under several flags including Waldbaum’s and PathMark, says they have bidders for 120 locations. They are shopping around for bidders on remaining locations, except those slated for permanent closure.
The Forum has learned that the Cross Bay Blvd. location, consistently a leader among the chain’s top performing stores, will get a new face under the Stop and Shop flag.
The Lindenwood Shopping Center Waldbaum’s, which has been in its current home for over 50 years, is according to sources, under negotiation to become a KeyFood supermarket.
Cathy Napolitano who oversees all operations and executive management of the shopping center says the proposed future plans for the plaza look very encouraging. “While we do not have exact details who will take over this location,” Napolitano told The Forum, “what we do know is that there are wonderful prospects for this community.”
And standing in front of the Lindenwood location where Ira Waldbaum himself signed the original lease in the 1960’s, many conversations could be spied on Tuesday afternoon. Little clusters of regular customers, shopping carts in tow.
“Did you hear? It’s gonna be Key Food.”
“No. No. It’s gonna be a Stop Rite.”
“A Stop Rite? It’s not Stop Rite. There is no STOP Rite. It’s SHOP Rite. And anyway , I told you, it’s KeyFood. And the other one, that one is gonna be a Stop and Shop.”
“Oh, now I can STOP and SHOP but I can’t STOP RITE. OY! KEY Rite- SHOP Rite-STOP Rite.”
“Who cares? Whatever it is -its gotta be better than Shop WRONG!”
And, in case you were wondering, no, you can’t make this stuff up.
As of press time both stores will continue to operate during normal business hours. It is undetermined what the schedule of stores would be during potential renovation projects. The Forum will continue to report on all details concerning this story in upcoming weeks and months.
By Patricia Adams