LIC businesses mourn exodus of FreshDirect

FreshDirect heads to the Bronx after years of calling Long Island City home. Photo by Karen Frantz
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Borden Avenue businesses said they would be sorry to lose FreshDirect, an online supermarket that has received millions in city and state subsidies to move to the Bronx for its expansion.

FreshDirect delivers fresh produce and other food to residents in the New York City metropolitan area. Earlier this year, it was reported that FreshDirect received a $128 million package of grants, benefits and tax breaks to move to the Bronx.

Residents near the Harlem River Yard, where FreshDirect plans to relocate, filed a petition to attempt to stop the move from happening. They are concerned that FreshDirect will negatively affect their environment.

But unlike the Bronx residents, most of the businesses currently surrounding FreshDirect on Borden Avenue will be saddened to see the employees go.

Sung Park, owner and manager of Paris Health New Direction Juice Bar on Vernon Boulevard, said his business will miss the FreshDirect employees.

“More than 50 FreshDirect employees come here daily — they make up 5 percent of my daily profit. I was surprised when I found out they were coming and I was hoping they would stay,” Park said.

Not only were drivers stopping by to get their daily breakfast, FreshDirect has had business catering meetings while other small events were held in its offices.

The Bricktown Bagel Cafe manager said it had catered many events for the FreshDirect offices, but if the online supermarket leaves, the manager expects business to remain the same as it has for past five years.

Foodcellar, the only supermarket in the Long Island City area that deals in only natural and organic produce, has been in the community since 2008 and said it was also not affected by FreshDirect.

“We are going in two different directions — we are a local supermarket they are an online food service,” said Foodcellar manager Metin Mangut.

Though it seems as if many of the business owners are going to feel saddened by Fresh Direct leaving, a few residents are happy.

“Borden Avenue is jam-packed with their trucks,” said Nicky, a local resident.

Residents do feel their area needs a shopping center and a larger supermarket chain.

“We do need a big supermarket and more industrial businesses,” said Mario Migorelli, owner of Mario’s Deli.

In response to hearing how their employees impacted the Long Island City neighborhood, the company released this statement:

“Our relocation to the Bronx will begin over the next few years and will enable us to expand our operations. We will absolutely continue to serve our current customers in Long Island City and elsewhere as we work to grow our business. Long Island City is a vibrant community and we are confident it will continue to grow as other companies such as FedEx move into the area we currently occupy.”

FreshDirect is hoping to continue to grow and be successful in the Bronx. The company has expanded services to all zip codes in the Bronx, and the move will also create many new job opportunities, according to the company.

In Long Island City, restaurants and food suppliers say they will miss having FreshDirect employees in the area, but business will go on as usual.

Posted 10:48 pm, October 10, 2012
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Reader feedback

David from LIC says:
Boycott Fresh Direct!

Why give them $130 million of our tax money as is proposed? Including $10 million cash for ten new trucks. My Pioneer store does not get that kind of support! It is not a done deal that they are going to Bronx, it is unlikely as they are near bankruptcy and need the government cash to continue.
Oct. 14, 2012, 8:01 am

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