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Key Food Stores Co-operative Inc. celebrated the grand reopening of its location at 87-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd. in Rockaway Beach, N.Y., that has been closed since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the area. Attended by local officials and company executives, including COO George Knobloch, the April 4 reopening event featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as family entertainment.
Knobloch, who served as master of ceremonies at the event, praised sibling store owners Rafael Diaz and Evelyn Vargas as the personification of perseverance for their tireless work in getting the store back up and running “one year, five months and six days” after Sandy.
Not only rebuilt but thoroughly renovated inside and out, the store now features state-of-the-art equipment and energy-efficient lighting systems, in addition to an ATM, gift cards, lotto, a recycling center for bottle returns, a parking lot and delivery service. During a short tour of the store, Progressive Grocer noticed a produce section remodeled to feel more spacious and now including handsome wood-look displays, a cheese island with gourmet offerings, wider aisles, and a dedicated gluten-free section. Additionally, the meat department is now using Key Food’s new color-coordinated ground meat labels.
“Like so many Rockaway businesses, this Key Food store experienced the devastation of Superstorm Sandy first-hand but has not allowed that destruction to break its commitment to the peninsula,” noted Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who sent a representative – Rockaway resident Daniel Brown -- to the reopening event. “I commend Key Food for maintaining its presence in the area by rebuilding and reopening its Rockaway Beach store. This location will continue to serve Rockaway residents and provide valuable employment opportunities with growth potential.” Katz added that the store’s return “is an important step in the peninsula’s resurgence.”
“Rockaway is on its way back,” Brown declared in the course of his brief remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which also included a Champagne toast. “Rockaway is open for business.” His statements met with enthusiastic applause.
“I have been a part of this neighborhood for 23 years,” said Diaz. “Rebuilding and coming back to serve this wonderful neighborhood has been my priority since the devastation hit.”
Staten Island, N.Y.-based Key Food consists of 150 independently owned and operated grocery stores doing business under the Key Food, Key Food Marketplace, Key Fresh & Natural, Food Dynasty, Food World, Holiday Farm, Locust Valley and Milford Farms banners in all five New York City boroughs, Long Island, upstate New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.