Construction of Food Emporium set to replace vacant Marlboro A&P is delayed

Owner still hopes to open shop by end of October

By Dave Schatz

Marlboro - The Food Emporium being built-out on Route 520- and 79 that’s set to replace the A&P could still open by the end of October despite a “Stop Construction” order issued by the township on May 15, according to its owner.

Owner, Joe Doleh’s, modern 31,250 square foot new supermarket in the Marlboro Shopping Center marks Monmouth County’s first Food Emporium, and it’s also his first in the Garden State, said the Colts Neck resident.

But Doleh already operates three supermarkets in New York that trade under the Key Foods Marketplace banner, while his son owns a fourth, he said.

“We had them before Key Foods acquired the Food Emporium banner (from A&P at the bankruptcy auction), he said, explaining that he’s been a member of the Staten Island, New York-based Key Food Stores Co-operative since 2009.

“Key Foods bought the name,” and intellectual property rights, he added.

Though each of his Key Foods is set up under a different corporation, the name of the one coming in Marlboro is “Emporium Meat Corp,” he said. One of the supermarkets is located on Staten Island, two others are in Queens, and his sons is in Brooklyn, added Doleh.

According to Marlboro Township Construction Department, some permits necessary to do certain work were obtained, but contractors went beyond that scope and had to be stopped.

“The work had started without getting all the proper permits, so there is a stop work order issued at the moment until we can obtain all the building permits that are required,” said a woman who answered the phone on May 31.

“We didn’t have a building permit yet,” acknowledged Doleh. “We (only) had a demo permit.” (By demo permit he meant a demolition permit,” he explained.)

He said he thought the contractor did work he wasn’t supposed to do that caused the violation.

“So they stopped us and we had to correct that violation,” said Doleh.

“We had the demo permit (but) the contractor was digging a trench that he wasn’t supposed to dig,” adding that it wasn’t part of the demolition permit.

“One of the guys, I guess, was looking for a sewer pipe to see where the sewer is and they were digging a trench in the floor, and the building inspector stopped him.”

But “we had a meeting today (June 6) with the township and we should be able to go back to work next Monday,” said Doleh.

Asked if it was a family business, Doleh said: Yes, “my son and my wife and daughter (work with me and) we’ve been in business since 1985.”

Why did he choose Marlboro for the location? “It was close to where I live,” said Doleh.

“We were expecting to open in September but now we delayed a month so we (will) open in October now,” said Doleh.

“Now we are probably a month behind. We were hoping (for a grand opening) between mid to end of September now we think it’s going to be the end of October,” said Doleh.

“You have to see what the inside looks like,” he said enthusiastically citing a video made by his architect of the layout inside the store.

“Tomorrow (June 7) we have an inspection for the demolition (permit),” said Doleh.

The strip center is fully occupied and home to about 15 businesses including a Dunkin’ Donuts, Carvel Ice Cream Shoppe, Mathnasium Learning Center franchise, Max Fitness Center franchise, plus several stores and restaurants including, Burger Bros., a single-unit fast-casual better Burger restaurant. There’s also a Not Just Kitchens Design Center, directly next door to the supermarket. (The owner of Burger Bros. recently opened Red Tomato Urban Pizzeria in Bear Brook Commons across the street.)

The original A&P sign, still intact, stands just steps away from the entrance on County Route 520, adjacent to a Wells Fargo Branch with a drive thru. The number 460 on the sign pertains to the address of the center.

The inside of the A&P was completely gutted, and construction crews were busy working on the build-out every day, for several months, until the stop work order was issued.

Marlboro Shopping Center is owned by Morganville, New Jersey-based Dave-Marion Corp.

“The corporation purchased the lease of the former A&P at the bankruptcy auction in the fall of 2015,” said Jack Werbler, the centers owner, declining to disclose the price.

That lease was originally dated November 17, 1969, “Between Maimone, Inc. and Dave-Marion Corp., as Landlord, and the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc., as Tenant,” according to court papers. The backup bidder was Key Food Stores Co-operative.

“I anticipate the opening of the Food Emporium later this year,” he added.

A demo permit was issued on June 8 according to the township, which also approved other electrical work at the site, noting “Demo,” according to placards.


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