An abrupt turnabout for Mattituck Marketplace

The sale of Mattituck Marketplace, the hamlet’s only supermarket, has been shrouded in rumor since early September. 

Store manager Sheila Murphy confirmed to The Suffolk Times late last month that the store had been sold but was not aware who the new owner would be.

Monday, Oct. 9, was the last day the market functioned under its previous owner, Dan’s Supreme Inc., a member of Key Food Stores Cooperative. On that same day, employees — some of whom had worked in markets at that location for decades in union jobs — found out they were abruptly being dismissed, with severance.

The market was closed Tuesday, according to new owner Miguel Quezada, who was reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, then reopened under new management the next day. Mr. Quezada said that the market was actively hiring and would interview  anyone who applied, including former employees. He could not comment on whether or not the store’s employees  would be unionized.

Tracy Raynor of Cutchogue worked for multiple ownership groups at that spot for 37 years. She did a little bit of everything during those three decades, but her latest position was in Mattituck Marketplace’s produce department.

She said she learned in September that the store would be closing in about a month through a phone call from her union representative at Local 342, United Food and Commercial Workers. 

“Everything was kept very secret,” Ms. Raynor said. “We were hearing that [the new owner] was going to come down, he’s going to talk to everybody … you know when that happened? That happened [Monday] at 3:30 in the afternoon and he just told the store manager, I guess, to tell certain people to come back if they want to come for an interview and reapply for a job.”

According to Ms. Raynor, 27 employees — five of them full-time workers — were left without jobs. She added that Dan’s Supreme Inc. was “very fair with the severance package for the full-timers.”

Armand Emanuel of Mattituck had worked at the market for four years as a bookkeeper and cashier.

“All I can say is it’s unfair that Dan’s Supreme didn’t tell anyone. All the full-timers now either have to find new jobs or start over. I feel terrible for my co-workers, and I wish them the best of luck,” he said.

Ms. Raynor said that employees were left to investigate new ownership due to the lack of transparency.

“We heard it was another Key Food and then we looked, and it was nonunion. So that’s why all the secrecy came about,” she said.

According to Ms. Raynor, jobs at Mattituck Marketplace had been union protected since she started working there in 1986.

The Suffolk Times contacted Dan’s Supreme Supermarkets Inc., which would not comment on the matter, as well as Key Foods Stores Cooperative Inc., which didn’t respond to requests for comment. Similar calls to union Local 342 also received no response. This newspaper also contacted the Cardinale family, owners of the Mattituck Plaza, but they were unavailable for comment before press time. 

Mr. Emanuel is currently working at Peconic Landing. 

“I’m lucky I applied early,” he said. “I put in my application before finding out the store was closing.”

He added that this change in ownership “doesn’t affect just the full timers, but everyone.”

Ms. Raynor said the public support she and other employees have received has been overwhelming. She added that people she hasn’t seen in years have been reaching out to her and showing support.

“I am deeply touched,” she said. “I didn’t know that I could reach that many people.”

Ms. Raynor said she’s got a few things in the works, but she wouldn’t share more on her plans. “I don’t think [the new owner] understands what kind of community [they] bought into,” Ms. Raynor said. “It’s not the city … this is, you know, a little hometown on Long Island.