www.qns.com I LIC COURIER I JUNE 2019 23
BY MAX PARROTT Astoria elected officials, labor ac-tivists,
grocery store employees
and community leaders rallied on
Friday, May 10, to save the Astoria
Key Food supermarket from being
pushed out of the neighborhood
after over 40 years of business.
The building’s landlord Jenel Management recently
filed demolition permits for the 22-15 31st St. prop-erty
in order to build a three-story Target at the site.
Speakers at the rally, led by state Senator Jessica
Ramos, pressured Jenel to work with Key Food on a
lease that would allow it to stay at the property with
the big-box store, retaining the unions jobs that the
“Target is not only trying to open one but two stores
in my district, attempting to essentially whitewash
and do away without mom-and-pop shops, including
a Key Food supermarket that our neighborhood has
depended on for decades,” said Ramos.
Ramos argued her case on the terms that Target’s
two forthcoming developments in the borough, on
the Astoria property as well as in Elmhurst, hurt local
businesses and eliminate union jobs. She added that
Key Foods, has worked with local stores in the area.
State Senator Michael Gianaris, who took the po-dium
after Ramos, said that the grocer was uniquely
situated to cater to the neighborhood’s senior popula-tion
who won’t be able to walk to other surrounding
stores without it.
“We understand your greed, but you need to also
think about the community you hope to join,” said
Gianaris. “If you want us to shop at your Target, you
better hope there is a Key Food in this building as well.”
About 60 of the Astoria Key Food employees are
unionized as a part of UFCW Local 1500. Key Food
franchise owner Larry Mandell, who was present at
the rally, told QNS that he plans to continue fighting
to stay at the location.
“Larry is one of the bosses who we work with and
get contracts with every year without a strike, without
a problem. He’s a man of his word. We love him. I’ll
Photo: Max Parrott/QNS
say that publicly. We love you,” said Tony Speelman,
president of UFCW Local 1500.
The development of the new Target is slated to begin
when the Key Foods lease ends in 2020. Though the
ground floor and lower level of the new development
are reported to be designated for retail, it remains
unclear whether Jenel will permit the grocery store
to stay terms that the grocer deems to be favorable.
Michael Hirschorn, the president of Jenel Manage-ment,
has said that talks with Key Food suspended three
months ago when the grocer turned down a deal to
occupy 25,000 square feet of space in the new building.
Nicholas Roloson, chief of staff for Astoria Council-man
Costa Constantinides, stood in for the councilman,
who was absent due to a family emergency. Roloson re-buffed
Hirschorn’s account of the negotiation process.
“We are seeing mischaracterizations that Key Food
was offered discounts to operate in the basement of
this building. Does that sound like a fair deal operating
in the basement of this building?” Rolson said. “We are
here to ask now to stop ignoring the will of the com-munity
and to say here that we need Key Food here.”
State Senator Jessica Ramos, leading other
local politicians and labor advocates pres-sured
Jenel to work with Key Food on a lease
that would allow it to stay at the property with
the big-box store, retaining the unions jobs
that the store provides.
Saving Key Food Queens officials turn up heat on Astoria landlord
to prevent longtime supermarket from closing