Grocery Chain to the Rescue, Ready to Fill Food Emporium Void

With Tribeca's Food Emporium soon to close, Best Yet Market (logo) is ready to take over the lease. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Nov. 06, 2015

The shelves of Tribeca’s Food Emporium may not remain empty for long.

Best Yet Market, a Long Island-based grocery chain, has agreed to buy the store, one of a group it is purchasing at auction as part of an A&P bankruptcy settlement. The deal, first reported by Supermarket News, is pending a judge’s approval. The next hearing on the purchase is Nov. 13.

The Tribeca Food Emporium, which has operated since 1983 at 316 Greenwich St. in Independence Plaza, is expected to close on Nov. 21 at the latest.

If the sale is approved, it is uncertain when the new store will open, Best Yet’s vice president and general counsel, Or Raitses, told the Trib in a telephone interview. “It could be a month and a half, it could be three months. It really depends on the condition of the equipment,” he said. “All we’ve seen [so far] is what customers see. We haven’t really gotten into the nitty-gritty of the store.”

Asked about competition from the Whole Foods that is down the street from the Food Emporium, Raitses said the company successfully operates some of its other stores in the same market.

“We welcome competition. We feel we’re a good fit,” Raitses said. “Obviously [the Food Emporium space] is a smaller store. It’s probably not going to have as many departments as Whole Foods has but we’re a good competitor.”

“There’s plenty of people in Tribeca, so one supermarket cannot serve everyone,” he added.

Raitses said that Best Yet tailors its product lines to the communities it serves and can appeal to a wide variety of customers. He cites its Harlem store, the company’s only Manhattan grocery, as an example.

The Tribeca store will do the same,” he said. “We will do a good job of serving all the residents of Tribeca, not just one sector.”

Best Yet will pay $300,000 to take over what’s left on the store’s lease as well as Food Emporium’s fixtures and equipment. Raitses estimated that about two-and-a-half or three years remain on the lease.

It is unknown how many of Food Emporium’s current employees, to be laid off by A&P, will be rehired by Best Yet. Unlike A&P, its stores are not unionized. In the language of the sale agreement, Best Yet states that it will make

“reasonable good faith efforts to make offers of employment to a number of any former collective bargaining unit employees of the sellers equivalent to at least 25 percent of the new store workforce who are qualified for such positions, provided that such offers of employment are not required to be for positions in the same store location at which such former employees work for the sellers.”

Union Local 338 of UFCW/RWDSU (Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union, United Food and Commercial Workers) sent this message to its workers who will be laid off: “We will continue to work with and to pressure Best Yet into hiring as many members as possible in all of the stores that they are acquiring.”  

Best Yet, a family-run chain, began as a fruit and vegetable stand in Brooklyn and opened its first storefront location in 1994. It now operates 20 stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and will add a slew of new ones formerly owned by A&P. The Tribeca store is one of six Best Yet purchases awaiting a judge’s consent. Other Best Yet acquisitions, all in Long Island, have already been approved.