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.
If Pete Vallone was our councilman this would not have happened and how come Costa did not bring his podium with him to protest?
This is so sad. Keyfood was a great place to get food. I also worked there one summer during high school. Great meat/chicken selection too. It will be annoying to have a target here and will probably overcrowd the area. Go build target where toy r us used to be on northern they have ample parking and space there. It’s sad that the landlord only cares about money and not the people in Astoria. Plus I heard it’ll be a target home decor selection not food.
Target pays their employees less than Keyfood.
Good. I like buying my items at a lower price.
So sad… to see this staple go,unfortunately Astoria disappoints me over and over, it hurts to see it go….
I being a life long Astoria resident remember when the same area supported not 1 but 3 supermarkets. Within 2 blocks between 21 Ave and Ditmars Blvd. & Ditmars Blvd. between 31st Street & 29th Street we had a Grand Union, Key Food, and a A&P. Now all gone. I feel bad for those older residents and ones without a car. They will have a longer walk to shop at a Trade Fair between 37 & 38th streets.
Plenty of supermarkets around Astoria (best market/Lidl, multiple, C-town fresh, Associated, local fruit stands galore to support, etc…). Tenor is not a good enough reason to keep a multi-million dollar franchise around indefinitaly, especially if they are not good. Lived around the corner for 15 years, and they were not good, complacent, and dirty. Plus, I also read that they had first dibs at staying in the location when the new building was built, but turned it down.
They’re coming soon to Jackson ave in LIC!
Too bad, but luckily there are plenty of food buying options in the neighborhood.
The new Target store will attract much needed new shoppers to that block and the surrounding blocks which should be helpful to many existing businesses.
I’m confused. Keyfood wanted to extend the lease now or when the new building is ready to house retailers?
Since Target is the tenant for the new building Keyfood could not remain. Keyfood and pandering local politicians stepped in to try to get the property owner to renew the lease and not build the new building.
It isn’t as if there is no place to buy fresh food in the neighborhood and with fresh food delivery services, supermarkets are already starting to lose their importance. Times are changing and we need to accept that it isn’t the 1970’s anymore.