By Phil Corso
Waldbaum’s on Francis Lewis in Bayside is closing, making room for a Korean grocery store in its place, Community Board 11 officials said.
According to a spokeswoman from the A&P supermarket chain, which owns Waldbaum’s, the supermarket near the intersection of 47th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard should be shuttered for good by the end of the summer, costing 77 employees their jobs.
CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece made the initial announcement of the store’s closing at the June 4 CB 11 meeting in Bayside.
Korean supermarket H Mart has been selected as the grocery store’s replacement near Garden World and should be open for business as early as September, according to CB 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld.
“The turnaround should be pretty quick,” Iannece said.
According to the community board chairman, the Korean supermarket received mixed reviews from area residents. The American-based chain is owned by the Hanahreum Group, of Lyndhurst, N.J., and has stores throughout the country.
Iannece said his biggest concern was the loss of jobs for the 77 Waldbaum’s workers.
“When you are dealing with a local supermarket, employees will most likely come from the immediate area,” Iannece said.
But the chairman said the current Waldbaum’s employees will be at least offered an opportunity to work in other locations.
“There is nothing more you can ask for in that regard,” Iannece said.
Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., based in Montvale, N.J., has experienced its own financial woes through recent years and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in 2010. The company also announced it would close one of its Pathmark grocery stores on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City in August.
In November, a Fairway supermarket opened in Douglaston after a large effort from community and city officials including Iannece, City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and state Sens. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside). Iannece said it took a major push to bring in the high-end supermarket because grocery store closures are a telling tale of the weak economy.
The chairman said he was glad to see another supermarket take Waldbaum’s’ place since the loss of any local grocery store is a disruption for shoppers. The location has been home to Waldbaum’s for more than 20 years.
“I am just happy that we won’t be seeing an empty storefront there,” Iannece said.
Seinfeld said H Mart was a good choice as a replacement for the supermarket because it will not interfere with the regular shopping patterns of some residents while also catering to the area’s Korean population.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.