Oct. 12, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The battle to keep the Key Food supermarket on 31st Street open has officially been lost.
The company that owns the Key Food store, which has been located at 22-15 31st St. for decades, closed it Wednesday after failing to reach an agreement with the landlord to extend the lease.
Man-Dell Food Stores, which owns the franchise location, said that it sold off its remaining goods last week and the entire store has now been emptied out and closed down.
Man-Dell said it began tearing down internal fixtures and removing its equipment Monday to prepare the premises to be handed back to the landlord later this month.
The lease officially comes to end on Oct. 31 and the landlord – Jenel Real Estate – plans on demolishing the building in order to build a new commercial development that would house a Target store and other retailers. Negotiations between the two parties broke down over the summer and had been going on for more than two years.
The closure brings an end to Key Food’s nearly 50-year run at the site, according to Man-Dell.
“It was a rough one, it was really hard,” said Roseann Marabello-Rivera, the Chief Administrative Officer for Man-Dell, about having to close.
The move follows urgent appeals from elected officials who said that the closure would make it tough for many residents to get food during the pandemic and disrupt the lives of Key Food workers. They urged the landlord to work with Key Food to extend the lease.
Man-Dell informed the state in July that it was shuttering the store and that all of its 151 staff members would be let go after failing to negotiate a lease extension.
However, Man-Dell said today that the majority of the store workers will be transferred to other Key Food locations in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. The company said 27 workers wound up losing their jobs.
“We worked very hard on this issue since July to try to move people around and save as many jobs as possible,” Marabello-Rivera said.
Marabello-Rivera said that it will now take about three weeks to clear out the store for Jenel, which has has demolition permits in place to tear down the entire structure.
It is not clear when demolition will begin. Queens Post reached out to Jenel, which has not responded for comment.