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Oct 20, 2015 2:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Best Yet Market Will Gut, Expand Former Westhampton Beach Waldbaum's

Best Yet Markets plans to completely gut Waldbaum's and Nationals, making the new supermarket nearly 30,000 square feet. GREG WEHNER
Oct 20, 2015 2:28 PM

Best Yet Market, which had the winning $4 million bankruptcy auction bid and will be taking over the Westhampton Beach Waldbaum’s, intends to close the supermarket for several months—possibly starting in mid-November—to complete a massive renovation that includes expanding into the former National’s building, according to village planning officials.

Representatives of the Bethpage-based chain, who have not returned repeated calls seeking information about their plans for the Sunset Avenue supermarket over the past several weeks, met with Westhampton Beach Village Building and Zoning Administrator Paul Houlihan last Thursday, October 15.

It was during this meeting, arranged by Best Yet Market officials and held at Village Hall, that company officials shared that they plan to completely overhaul the building and also renovate the adjacent building, which has sat vacant for several years, according to Mr. Houlihan. The company has not yet filed any formal applications with the village, he added, though they intend to secure final site plan approval from the Westhampton Beach Planning Board next month.

He said Best Yet Market officials also shared at the meeting—which was also attended by supermarket chain architect Richard Kent, facilities director John Timoney and general counsel Or Raitses—that the work will force the temporary closure of the supermarket for several months, adding that they plan to reopen in either the late spring or early summer.

“I was glad to hear they are gutting the inside of the store,” Mr. Houlihan said this week. “The way I look at it, they are doing the job right to make it look like a new store.”

Based on their conversations, Best Yet Market officials intend to completely gut the 24,500-square-foot supermarket and also rent the estimated 5,000-square-foot former National’s building. The new supermarket will therefore measure nearly 30,000 square feet.

The new supermarket will be nearly double the size of the 15,000-square-foot Best Market that is located in Riverhead, which is also the next-closest supermarket run by the company.

Staller Associates in Hauppauge owns and manages the building that now houses the Waldbaum’s and vacant adjoining building. A woman answering the phone on Tuesday, who declined to give her name, said company officials have not been notified about any plans to renovate the building. “Right now, the case is in bankruptcy court and is being handled by lawyers,” she said.

According to Mr. Houlihan, the plan is to place the Westhampton Beach supermarket’s main entrance where the National’s building now stands while the exit will be situated where the front doors to Waldbaum’s are currently located. In addition to offering customers the normal supermarket staples, such as a bakery, deli and meat market, the Westhampton Beach store will also boast a “cheese world” and a “beer world.”

Two weeks ago, representatives of Best Yet Market, who currently operate 20 supermarkets in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, confirmed that they were the winning bidder in bankruptcy proceedings initiated by Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company in New Jersey, which owned Waldbaum’s. Those same officials have declined to offer any additional information, including their plans for the Waldbaum’s location, in the weeks since.

But bankruptcy court documents show that Best Yet Market was declared the successful bidder for the Westhampton Beach Waldbaum’s with a winning bid of $4 million. The second-highest bid was made by New Jersey-based Kings Food Market; its bid was not included in the court records.

Longtime Waldbaum’s employees, meanwhile, are still concerned about their jobs and have been working with members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 342 to convince U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain to reject Best Yet Market’s winning bid because the company does not employ unionized employees. Instead, they are asking the judge for the Southern District of New York to accept the second-highest bid from Kings Food Market.

According to Kelly Egan, the director of Mineola-based UFCW Local 342, the union has submitted a petition containing 3,093 signatures to Judge Drain, with the hope that he will consider going with a union-friendly supermarket. Ms. Egan noted that the court hearing on that subject has been postponed until Monday, October 26.

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Well there's some good news
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Oct 20, 15 2:30 PM
Not 'til the fat lady sings!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Oct 20, 15 4:38 PM
While they were once a beneficial means to protecting workers, unions have now become the squeaky wheel that grinds the means of progress and economic growth to a halt. Nothing would preclude these workers from filling out an application and getting hired on merit or experience.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Oct 20, 15 5:29 PM
You forgot "for $10 an hour or less."
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 20, 15 8:31 PM
What grinds progress and economic growth to a halt is the more than 1,000 times the pay of the union workers that the CEO's and other high level management people get.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Oct 21, 15 9:09 AM
Who are you to set the market Z ... if $10 is not enough for you then change your station in life. Go make $200 an hour It can be done if you stop complaining and work at It.
Oct 21, 15 11:04 AM appended by joe hampton
tenn tom if you, Z and Bernie Sanders stopped putting so much energy into counting other peoples money and focused on making more for you and your family... you would not be so bitter!
By joe hampton (3461), southampton on Oct 21, 15 11:04 AM