Sources close to the situation said the decision to put the 2504 Eastchester Road site on the market was initiated by either the Applebaum Realty, the property’s owner, or by the supermarket’s owners themselves.
Some community members now believe the Met Food owners had planned all along – to secretly sell their lease, all while keeping the neighborhood in the dark.
“I was very taken aback to learn this was a well laid out plan – that the operators of the supermarket approached Walgreens and asked if Walgreens would like to assume the lease,” Councilman Jimmy Vacca said. “I think the operator of the market gave no consideration as to the impact this will have on the community.”
One of Vacca’s many partners in the fight to save the supermarket now believes their effort, which included a protest outside the store on May 19, was doomed from the start.
“I was on a conference call at Councilman Vacca’s office with Walgreens’ headquarters recently, and they told us how the sale occurred,” Vinny Prezioso, of CB 11, stated. “Walgreens was approached by the broker representing the store. Applebaum Realty later told Walgreens they could buy the property in addition to taking over the lease.”
Vacca said he has since learned the supermarket’s current lease has one year left, with an option to renew for another 10 years.
“The operator of Met Foods should have been forthright with us,” Vacca noted. “I had confidence that this was a landlord situation, and it now appears to be much more complicated.”
Contrary to these reports, one of the owners of Angelo and Joe’s Met Food, who didn’t want to be identified by name, said it was the landlord Murray Applebaum, who’s owned the property for 50 years, that wanted to sell.
“The landlord sold the building because they are elderly and want out,” the Met owner said. “The store was very viable, and we were renting at $15 per foot, but with market rate rents going between $35 and $45 per square foot, I would be losing money.”
Regardless of who is to blame, seniors will be the most affected by the store’s closing.
“There should be a supermarket in the area,” said Gene Tutora, president of the Chester Civic Association. “There are seniors who need the convenience. I hope another supermarket operator would open a store somewhere in the area.”
A store not too far away already exists and is also owned by Angelo and Joe, who say their Eastchester Road employees would either be moved to their Allerton Avenue store, or to another location in New Rochelle when the Eastchester Road store closes in August, although some reports suggest an earlier close.
The operator also said their other location, at Allerton and Hone avenues, will continue to be open for seniors with delivery service, and that the Allerton store will stay open later hours and have more staff to help the customers.
“We bought the other location about three years ago to protect us against the situation we have on Eastchester Road,” the owner continued. “The other store is one and half miles away, and we are trying to get Councilman Jimmy Vacca to establish a shuttle service between Eastchester Road and our other location, but so far, we have not heard anything.”