Fast on the heels of building its first full-sized dairy/grocery store on Long Island in East Farmingdale, Stew Leonard’s is planning another superstore in East Meadow.
The Norwalk, Conn.-based chain has plans to build its second full-sized Long Island location at the East Meadow Mall on Front Street, in the 70,000-square-foot space last occupied by a Pathmark supermarket that closed in May 2013, according to industry sources. Stew Leonard’s already had two of its wine stores here, in Carle Place and Airport Plaza in East Farmingdale, where it began construction of its 60,000-square-foot dairy store this spring. The newest Stew Leonard’s would join co-anchor Marshalls at the East Meadow center.
The family-owned regional chain – once called “the Disneyland of dairy stores” by The New York Times – currently operates four dairy stores. It has three in Connecticut – Norwalk, Danbury and Newington – and one in Yonkers. Stew Leonard’s began with a 17,000-square-foot Norwalk store in 1969, soon after patriarch Charles Leonard’s nearby Clover Farms Dairy was paved over by a highway project. The original store was expanded several times before a second store, 130,000 square feet in Danbury, opened in 1991. A year later, the company earned recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records for having “the greatest sales per unit area of any single food store in the United States.”
Today, the Stew Leonard’s chain, now headed by Charles Leonard’s grandson, Stew Leonard Jr., boasts annual revenues that eclipse $300 million. The East Meadow lease is being negotiated by Jeff Nable of Jericho-based Ripco Real Estate and the shopping center’s Valley Stream-based landlord Serota Properties. Neither would confirm nor comment on the Stew Leonard’s deal.
At Airport Plaza, the Stew Leonard’s is replacing Dave & Buster’s which vacated the space—the East Farmingdale center’s second largest next to Home Depot—after its lease expired with landlord Kimco Realty in February. The Stew Leonard’s at Airport Plaza is slated to open early in 2016. Stew Leonard’s previous attempt to build one of its full-sized stores in East Farmingdale in 2003 was unsuccessful. The chain wanted to build a 150,000-square-foot store at the intersection of Route 110 and Conklin Street, next to Airport Plaza. But the management of adjacent Republic Airport and some aviation groups complained that the store would lie in the flight path of Republic’s runway.
A proposal to move the store to a site 1,000 feet to the south didn’t fly with Stew Leonard’s or the Town of Babylon, and the project fizzled.