“There was no reason to throw it out,” he said. “I was either going to donate it to MLK or call Island Harvest, but we knew that the MLK Center needed it very badly, and they were my first choice.”
On Feb. 12, Koff and others hoisted boxes of soda, canned goods and other non-perishable items onto a metal conveyor on the top floor of the store, while downstairs, MLK Center volunteers loaded hundreds of boxes onto trucks. They were shipped to the organization’s distribution center at 515 Long Beach Blvd., to be distributed to storm victims.
“One of the biggest things people say that they need is food and clothing,” said MLK board chair James Hodge. “I think it’s great that a business owner like Rob is giving back to the town. He’s been a supporter of the community for many years, and in the aftermath of Sandy, he’s trying to meet residents’ needs with canned goods and drinks, and that may help the pocket of someone who is still struggling.”
“We had assorted peanut butter, tuna fish, laundry detergent, juice, paper goods, pet food products, canned vegetables and fruits,” Koff added. “It covered the whole gamut — and it helps people’s wallets.”
Gone are the supermarket’s five aisles of groceries and 18 freezer doors inside the bare space. Koff said that the new owner, Mike Hassin, expects to open Key Food in April or May, following permit approval by the city and renovations (another Key Food, under different ownership, recently opened in the former Associated supermarket space on East Park Avenue).
“The people I spoke to are glad that it’s going to continue to be a supermarket,” Bendo said. “I think everybody was hoping that it would stay a supermarket. Normally in the winter, it’s already tough and the thing that carries businesses through is the local residents who shop here. But a lot of the residents are still displaced. That being said, this is an important step toward revitalization, because I think C-Town was one of the anchors — it wasn’t a bar, it wasn’t a restaurant — it was the local supermarket.”
Koff said that he has asked the new owner to consider hiring some of his employees back.