Bensonhurst

Bensonhurst Waldbaum’s to become Asian market

January 28, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The site of the former Waldbaum’s Supermarket won’t be empty for much longer, according to media reports. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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A shuttered Waldbaum’s supermarket in Bensonhurst will reopen as a food market specializing in Asian goods, according to a consumer news website, which reported that the new owners were the highest bidders at a Jan. 26 bankruptcy auction of the property.

The website, www.couponsinthenews.com, reported that the owners of J-Mart, an Asian food market based in Queens, won the bidding war for the former Waldbaum’s site at 8121 New Utrecht Ave.

Waldbaum’s Supermarket at the site closed its doors for good on Nov. 19, leaving 70 employees without jobs. The closure took place in the wake of a bankruptcy filing by its owner, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc., more commonly known as the A&P. The A&P, which operated 296 supermarkets across the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 last year.

Waldbaum’s had been operating at the New Utrecht Avenue site for 37 years, according to Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who held a rally at the entrance to supermarket’s parking lot with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce on the day it closed.

The purpose of the rally was to demand that a supermarket replace Waldbaum’s as quickly as possible, Gentile said.

Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) charged that the closure of Waldbaum’s would leave the Bensonhurst community “high and dry” without adequate food market choices.

Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, agreed. “We need a supermarket — period,” he said at the rally.

A new Asian supermarket will fit in nicely in Bensonhurst, a neighborhood with a vibrant and growing Asian-American population, according to civic leaders.

But the news that an Asian supermarket would be opening at former Waldbaum’s site comes as a disappointment to many local residents who had hoped to lure Trader Joe’s to the neighborhood.

A petition on www.change.org to bring a Trader Joe’s to Bensonhurst garnered nearly 1,500 signatures in less than a week.

“Bensonhurst residents are losing many retail spaces to local buyers that are opening limiting our options and food choices. In fact, two supermarkets just shut down in our area and are currently on the auction. Locals are raving about affordable and healthy options, however, and wish that they had better options in our own neighborhood. We have multiple locations that are large enough to accommodate a Trader Joe’s, so please sign the petition to help get our choices back!” a message on the petition’s page read.

Trader Joe’s, founded in 1958, is a nationwide chain with more than 250 supermarkets. Many of its stores feature cedar planks in the walls and staff members decked out in Hawaiian shirts.

The stores sell gourmet, organic and vegetarian foods, along with staples like bread, milk and eggs. Shoppers can also find personal hygiene products, household cleaning items and plants and flowers.

“I think it would have been a great thing to have a Trader Joe’s in the neighborhood,” said Sandy Irrera, who signed the petition and posted a link to it on her Facebook page.

“A lot of older people in the neighborhood have been complaining since Waldbaum’s closed that they have to walk far to shop for food,” Irrera told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Bay Ridge resident Kevin Peter Carroll also signed the online petition. “The need for a supermarket in Bensonhurst is great. And Trader Joe’s has really healthy foods at fair prices. I would love to have a Trader Joe’s nearby to do my shopping,” he told the Eagle.

Trader Joe’s, which has a store on Court Street, has not expressed any interest in setting up shop in Bensonhurst.

Alison Mochizuki, a spokeswoman for the company, told www.bensonhurstbean.com that opening a Trader Joe’s in southern Brooklyn is not in the company’s plans.

 


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