Seasons supermarkets file for bankruptcy

Lawrence stores remain open despite financial difficulties

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Seasons, the upscale kosher supermarket chain with national ambitions, has filed for bankruptcy, it was reported late Monday.

In its Chapter 11 filing, Seasons reported $42 million in debt and $5 million in assets, with millions owed to vendors, landlords and banks, according to the Commercial Observer, a leading publication on New York real estate. It cited a filing that was obtained through the Nationwide Research Company. In such a filing the business usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time.

On Tuesday morning, just before Yom Kippur, at least some of the Seasons stores were open, although shelves were not fully stocked. As of Tuesday morning the store on Central Avenue in Lawrence and the 24/6 mini-mart branded as Seasons Xpress on Doughty Boulevard, also in Lawrence across the street from the Inwood Long Island Rail Road station, were open. At the Kew Gardens Hills store, departments operated by vendors — Mechy’s Gourmet prepared foods, for instance — appeared to be fully stocked.

The Kew Gardens Hills-based chain, established in 2010, also operates supermarkets on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; in Scarsdale; in Lakewood and Clifton, New Jersey; and in Baltimore, Maryland. The opening of a store it built in Cleveland, Ohio, and a move into a larger space — a former Gristedes — in Scarsdale had been delayed. A second Seasons Xpress was being developed on Peninsula Boulevard in Cedarhurst.

In mid-August, after complaints from shoppers who noted empty shelves in the Central Avenue store the Herald reported on Seasons’ difficulties. Chief Executive Officer Mayer Gold said then: “Seasons Kosher, and its predecessor Supersol, is proud to be a mainstay of the Far Rockaway/Five Towns community for almost four decades. Seasons has revolutionized the kosher shopping experience, and we look forward to serving the neighborhood and the kosher consumer for many years to come.”

The Scarsdale Inquirer reported on Sept. 14 that the Seasons store in that Westchester community had run out of key food items before Rosh Hashanah — “no gefilte fish, no chopped liver and the meat case was empty.”

Gold told the Inquirer that “we have temporarily closed the store till after the holidays as we gear up for the grand opening of our new 10,000-square-foot store” in space formerly occupied by a Gristedes market in the same strip mall. Asked by the Inquirer about customer concerns, Gold said, “As this is an extremely fluid situation, I can only comment on what our plans are.”

An Aug. 30 headline in Kol HaBirah, a Baltimore-Washington Jewish newspaper, reported that “shortages raise concerns about the future of Seasons.” It quoted a shopper at the Baltimore store as reporting that “the deli and meat sections are cleaned out, with just some hot dogs and sausages remaining.”

The Cleveland Jewish News wondered on Aug. 30 when — if — Seasons would open in a store it built at Oakwood Commons in South Euclid. “If the company isn’t planning to come, it hasn’t informed South Euclid officials or First Interstate Properties, which is developing Oakwood Commons,” the News reported.

Beneath the headline “Seasons Come and Go,” the Kosher Guru reported on Aug. 19 that “for weeks, meats were not filling the refrigerated section and deliveries were slowing down.”

The Commercial Observer reported late Monday that “Seasons CEO Mayer Gold could not be reached for comment. Co-owner Zvi Bloom directed calls to business management consultant Joel Getzler, who did not respond to a request for comment.”

“It’s unclear if Seasons will close any stores or is looking for a buyer, but there have been reports of empty shelves at its outposts,” the Observer reported.

Gold did not return a Herald request for comment by press time.

Have an opinion about Seasons bankruptcy filing? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.