ASTORIA, QUEENS — A protracted battle over the fate of an Astoria Key Food supermarket may have come to a close.
Owner Man-Dell Food Stores filed plans last week to lay off all 151 workers at the Key Food at 22-15 31st St., after more than two years trying to negotiate a lease renewal.
Roseann Marabello-Rivera, Man-Dell's chief administrative officer, told Patch the company hasn't heard from the supermarket's landlord since May.
That's when the landlord, Jenel Management, sent them options for basement or ground-floor spaces in the new development planned for the site, Marabello-Rivera said in a phone interview. She said Man-Dell chose the basement option, then never heard back.
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"They're basically just not responding to our messages or anything at this point," Marabello-Rivera said. "We're here to work with them."
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking: Man-Dell's lease expires Oct. 31, and the company is subject to requirements to notify the state Department of Labor of mass layoffs 90 days in advance.
Man-Dell issued its layoff notification, or WARN notice, on July 7.
Jenel Management President Michael Hirschhorn did not return Patch's calls requesting comment.
In a May 21 letter, which was first reported by NY1 and was also obtained by Patch, Hirschhorn told local lawmakers that his company had finalized a lease with an unnamed major supermarket chain.
"We have tried to keep Key Food on the block but continue to remain unsuccessful in these negotiations," he wrote.
Marabello-Rivera said Man-Dell is still hoping to reach a deal to stay in the 31st Street location, which it has called home for 40 years.
If the supermarket is forced to close, Man-Dell may reassign more senior workers to one of its three other Key Food locations nearby, but Marabello-Rivera said the company would end up laying off a minimum of 88 people.
"It's terrible for the neighborhood, especially during this pandemic," she said. "We're prepared to do whatever it takes to stay at this location."