“We’ve been here for 25 years and we plan to be here for another 25 years,” said owner Khalid Doleh in his speech during the ribbon cutting ceremony in the newly renovated produce section of the market, located at 1610 Cortelyou Road, between East 16th and East 17th Streets.
Doleh, who is better known to his customers as “Tony,” explained that the store has tripled the space of their perishable food section as well as the local and organic produce.
“You know the neighborhood has been asking for it, my customers have been asking for it, and things were getting tight, I would like to expand it more,” said Doelh. “We want to be a part of that healthier trend.”
Senator Kevin S. Parker, Councilman Mathieu Eugene, and Alvin Berk, Chairman of Community Board 14, turned out for the ceremony alongside Key Food executives including Chief Executive Officer Dean Janeway, Chief Operating Officer George Knobloch, Vice President of Strategic Planning Chet Koby, and Vice President of Business Development John Durante.
During the ceremony, Councilman Eugene thanked Doleh for his service to the community in providing greater access to food on the south side of Cortelyou Road, as well as bringing more jobs to the area — this expansion will bring 12 new jobs to the business.
“In government we are grateful to you,” Eugene said to Doleh. “We need partners like you; the government can’t do everything.”
Economic development coordinator for Flatbush Development Corporation Anthony Finkel hopes that the expansion will encourage more business in the area, further helping the area’s economy.
“It’s great to have an expanded business on this side of Cortelyou,” said Finkel. “We hope that this will help attract more people to this side of the road. It will help business in the area.”
After the ribbon cutting, the store was packed with locals celebrating the opening and others just trying to get their Friday shopping done.
Neighbor Bob MacDonald came out to see the festivities and buy some cold cuts for his lunch.
“I’m a regular customer so I came to see what’s happening,” said MacDonald. “I’ve lived here all my life, I live right up the block. I’ve seen the different changes in the neighborhood and I think it’s good.”
Meanwhile, Sandy Harper, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years, just wanted Doleh to help her reach cans of tuna on the top shelf.
“I’m too short. I’ll ask anybody,” said Harper as Doleh stretched up to help her.
Besides his regular customers, Doleh said he was happy with the turnout to celebrate the expansion. The job has taken about five months despite the extremely cold weather.
“It takes an event like this to make you realize everyone’s love for you.”