JACKSON HEIGHTS — The shuttered Trade Fair supermarket that closed last week without warning, leaving dozens of employees out of work, is set to reopen in January as a Key Food — but its new owner wouldn't say how many of the original workers he'll keep at the new store.
Owner Mohammed Haque, who purchased the site at 75-07 37th Ave. before it closed down, said it's too early to commit to re-hiring all of the independent Trade Fair's 50 employees.
"I'm planning to hire some workers from here, and some from my other stores," he said. "I haven't dealt with [the workers] yet."
Haque owns four Key Food locations in the city, including one on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, two in Bed-Stuy and one in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Haque and another owner, Jaynal Abdin, have been lining up their plans to take over the store since at least mid-November, when they filed an application for a license to sell beer and wine at the store on, according to state documents.
The store's sale was finalized on Dec. 11, Haque said. He said his future plans for the store include retrofitting it with new shelves and freezers, and renovating the front checkout system.
Meanwhile, labor leaders and locked-out workers continued their protest in front of the supermarket, which they've maintained since the former owners abruptly closed the doors on its employees on Dec. 10.
A large, inflatable snow-covered rat was still in front of the store when an organizer from Local 338 said he delivered former worker's applications for the new store on Monday.
Danny Katch, who lives in Jackson Heights, started a petition this week to plan a boycott of the large supermarket if they don't hire back all of the workers.
"Mr. Haque should know that the residents of Jackson Heights do not stand for businesses that break the law and disregard their workers," read the online petition, which had more than 150 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.
"We the undersigned will not shop at the new Key Food, and will urge our friends and neighbors to do likewise, until the workers from the former Trade Fair have been re-hired."
When asked about the planned boycott, Haque said he hopes residents will come in and check out the new store.
"I really need the support from the community," he said. "The people who live here and used to shop here, I want them to shop here. I'm putting money in to upgrade the store."
"This is going to be a Key Food. This is not going to be a Trade Fair," he said. "Key Food has a different strategy to it's stores."