Two days before Fairway Market’s Douglaston store was slated to close, the owner of Food Bazaar made a bid to take over its lease. The supermarket would remain operating as the ownership transfers.
The supermarket chain owner, Bogopa Enterprises, Inc., purchased the 242-02 61 Ave. store, as well as Fairway Market’s Red Hook location in Brooklyn, on July 15 — a Department of Labor Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification stated the stores would shut down by July 17 because the owners “simply do not have the resources to continue to operate the stores for an extended period,” according to the sale motion. The sale will be made final effective Thursday, assuming it is approved by the federal bankruptcy court.
The July 1 WARN notice notes that the Fairway Group Holdings Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, was unable to reach an agreement with a potential buyer and was planning to shut down and liquidate four of its 14 locations. Third-party buyers purchased the other sites across Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Westchester and Long Island, all sales of which are still pending. The corporate office, located in Harlem, closed in the last week of June as well.
The closure would have laid off 150 employees at Douglaston Plaza, but the agreement with Bogopa Enterprises requires the new owners to employ no less than 90 percent, but preferably all, of the Fairway Market union staff at the location, which City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) was elated to learn in light of the pandemic.
“Our unemployment rate is soaring,” he told the Chronicle Tuesday. “It’s been very, very difficult, especially in Queens which has been ground zero … This a good thing. I’m happy for the community … we don’t have a lot of retail in eastern Queens, there’s very few in [my] district. We do need to shop and we don’t need people to schlep to buy groceries.”
Though the community was fond of the Fairway Market, and Grodenchik noted that even his wife will be sad to see it go, he hopes that the sale will change the bad luck the Douglaston Plaza shopping center has endured in the last few years — Macy’s closed its doors in 2017, followed by Movie World in 2018. The plaza’s Toys ‘R’ Us shut down in 2018 as well, along with locations across the country, before Modell’s Sporting Goods and Burger King followed suit in 2019. The Fairway Market had been at its Douglaston location since 2010, when it replaced Waldbaum’s, which closed all locations in 2015 under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“They’ve been very unlucky,” Grodenchik said of the plaza’s owners, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., who could not be reached for comment. “The whole top level practically disappeared.”
Food Bazaar has six other locations in Queens, as well as in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. Grodenchik looks forward to what it will bring to the community if the deal goes through.
“We have several thousand families living in a short distance of the shopping center and I’m hopeful this will lead to a stabilization of the shopping center,” he said. “A bigger store gives you more variety and it’s something the people deserve.”