The Jericho Turnpike shopping center used to be home to...

The Jericho Turnpike shopping center used to be home to Stein Mart and Best Market. Credit: Chris Ware

A Commack shopping center is filling some big vacancies with a Planet Fitness, Lidl supermarket and three restaurants after the exits of several longtime or large tenants.

Some of those former tenants' parent companies cited COVID-19 as the major reason for their exits. Among them was one of Mayfair's two anchors – a 31,000-square-foot Stein Mart department store that closed after five years there due to a pandemic-related bankruptcy in 2020.

"We’ve seen a lot of our properties that are great, well-located, long-term highly occupied shopping centers" be significantly impacted by the pandemic, said Matthew K. Harding, CEO of Levin Management Corp., the Plainfield, New Jersey, company that manages and oversees leasing for the Mayfair Shopping Center.

Gym chain Planet Fitness and German discount grocer Lidl, the latter of which bought all 24 Best Market stores on Long Island in 2019, will open new locations in the shopping center by early next year, company representatives said.

Also, three restaurants are planning openings this year, in a total of 13,600 square feet of space, according to Levin:

• Meet Izakaya Ramen Bar will open by the end of year in space that Famous Toastery vacated in fall 2019. The new casual restaurant will serve Japanese-style tapas, skewers and ramen.

• Bagel Toastery will open at the end of September in space that Mayfair Bagel left in November 2018. The new eatery is being launched by the partner/owners of bagel shop/deli Bagelicious Café in Port Jefferson Station.

• JBBQ & Shabu Shabu will open at the end of year in space formerly occupied by Good Taste Buffet, which left in August 2018. The new Korean-Japanese eatery will be from the owners of Japanese restaurant chain Kashi, whose five locations include four on Long Island.

Built around 1960, the 221,766-square-foot shopping center is located at 10-2020 Jericho Turnpike in Commack. It is now 70% leased, Harding said.

The tenant mix of Mayfair and other shopping centers is evolving to include more places to eat and socialize and fewer clothing stores, which are more susceptible to online retail competition, he said.

"Yes, absolutely more people are buying apparel online and there are less apparel retailers in shopping centers … and other retail places. However, it’s not gone for good," he said.

Planet Fitness will open by the end of this year in a 19,000-square-foot space in the Mayfair Shopping Center, said Becky Zirlen, spokeswoman for the Hampton, New Hampshire-based gym chain.

"The 19,000 square-foot location will offer state-of-the art cardio and strength equipment, free fitness training, and a Black Card Spa which will include HydroMassage beds, massage chairs and tanning beds/booths for PF Black Card members," she said.

Planet Fitness, which has 19 open gyms on Long Island, will move into space in the Mayfair Shopping Center that used to be occupied by clothing chains Gap, New York & Co. and Justice.

The parent companies of New York & Co., Justice and off-price retailer Stein Mart all cited the pandemic as a major reason for filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last summer and then closing all their stores.

Lidl closed the 60,300-square-foot Best Market in the Mayfair Shopping Center in February for renovations and conversion to the Lidl name, but later decided to open the new Lidl in a smaller space, Stein Mart’s former location.

"We were able to work with the landlord of the shopping center and get a better fit in the same location," Lidl spokesman Will Harwood said. The grocery store will open in early 2022, he said.

The former Best Market space remains unleased but could be divided between two tenants, Harding said.

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