Credited with being “America’s first supermarket,” the King Kullen grocery store chain — after 88 years of independent ownership — is being sold to Stop & Shop, the latter company announced Friday.
The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC, an Ahold Delhaize USA Company, said in a release it expects the sale to close in the first quarter of 2019.
“King Kullen is a well-respected grocery chain in the Long Island market that has an 88-year tradition of excellent customer service,” Mark McGowan, president of Stop & Shop, said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing our quality, selection and value to more communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties.”
King Kullen has 32 supermarkets and five Wild By Nature stores, including locations in Bridgehampton, Hampton Bays and Manorville, and a corporate office in Bethpage. Stop & Shop has more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, including locations in East Hampton, Hampton Bays and Riverhead.
It is unclear what will happen to King Kullen’s East End locations and its employees.
Brian Cullen, co-president of the King Kullen Grocery Co., which was founded in Queens in 1930, said in a statement he is confident Stop & Shop “will carry on our legacy of service in the region.”
“As a family-owned and operated business, we are very proud of our heritage and extremely grateful to all of our associates and customers for their support over the years,” Mr. Cullen said.
He said the company had recently determined the best option “was to merge King Kullen into Stop & Shop.”
“We are grateful to our Long Island customers and employees over several generations and proud to have supported so many fine organizations,” he said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of the fabric of this Island for all these years.”
Reached by phone Tuesday, grocery store owner Tony Lawless of Cromer’s Country Market in Noyac said he doesn’t think the King Kullen sale will have much of an impact on small businesses like his.
“I’m sure it’s going to affect some places on the island. It has to. It’s taking a lot of ‘local’ out of Long Island,” he said. “It changes the landscape a little, but the further out you go on the East End, it doesn’t really affect us as much as it would further up the island.”
He said Cromer’s — which has been located in Noyac since 1990 — is more of a local gourmet grocery store, rather than a supermarket.
“We’re more of a service store than the supermarket, where you just grab what you want. So that kind of keeps us going,” Mr. Lawless said. “That’s what smaller places have to do, give them more services.”