After more than a year of anticipation, Bayside’s new H Mart grocery store announced an official opening date for Saturday.
The popular supermarket chain has delayed its opening several times since it was revealed to be taking over the site of a former Waldbaums grocery store near the intersection of 47th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard. But after leaving its most recent delay back in June open-ended, the chain was able to buy time and quickly spruced up its new building for an opening day.
The Saturday opening will include a 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting, an H Mart spokesman said.
The Korean supermarket chain first signed onto the site after Waldbaums was shuttered last year, costing 77 borough workers their jobs. At that time, community leaders said they expected a new grocery store would inhabit the spot as early as September 2012, but H Mart admitted that date would have been impossible to meet as it was still securing permits and construction plans.
The chain later said it would open its doors by July 2013, but that deadline was also missed. A spokesman for H Mart told TimesLedger Newspapers at the time the company did not know when the doors would open.
“We have no exact date set for a grand opening,” the spokesman said in June. “I can’t make sure.”
More than a year later than expected, and after months of the vacant building sporting H Mart signs promoting the unknown grand opening, the chain finally came out with a final date.
H Mart, an American-based franchise, is owned by Hanahreum Group, of Lyndhurst, N.J., and has stores throughout the country.
Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said last year he expected the turnaround at the location to be fairly quick, so the area residents’ shopping habits would not be too severely affected. But his hopes that Bayside and Flushing shoppers would not have to stare at an empty storefront became a reality over the succeeding months.
Iannece said the community had mixed views about the incoming supermarket chain, but CB 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld said she thought it would still be a good fit for the northeast Queens community.
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the New Jersey-based owner of Waldbaums, has had a turbulent history of financial woes in recent years and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in 2010. A company spokeswoman said earlier this year it had also closed one of its Pathmark grocery stores on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community News Group
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