Farm-fresh food retailer Stew Leonard's, which says it operates the world's largest dairy store, will open its first Long Island grocery store early next year in Farmingdale.
The location in the Airport Plaza shopping center, across from Stew Leonard's Wines of Farmingdale, will be the chain's fifth grocery store. Construction will begin this year, and it is expected to open in January or February 2016. The 60,000- square-foot grocery will provide up to 400 jobs. The location was vacated by restaurant and entertainment business Dave & Buster's this weekend, Stew Leonard's said.
"We are thrilled to finally be building a Stew Leonard's in Farmingdale," Stew Leonard Jr., president and chief executive of the company, said in a statement. "This has been a dream of our family's since 2002, when we first started exploring options for a new store on Long Island. We know we'll be welcomed with open arms by all of our friends in Farmingdale and throughout Suffolk County."
The family-owned and -operated business was founded as a dairy store in 1969 in Norwalk, Connecticut, and has grown to become a nearly $400 million enterprise with more than 2,000 employees. Its three other locations are in Danbury and Newington, Connecticut, and in Yonkers.
There are also nine independently owned wine stores that license the name Stew Leonard's in the tristate area.
Stew Leonard's is known for its farm-fresh milk, which comes from 3,000 cows on a family-owned farm in Ellington, Connecticut.
Each Stew Leonard's store carries 2,200 items and has a bakery, butcher shop and seafood department. The stores source many products from local farms, vineyards and vendors in the region, on Long Island and throughout the state.
The chain is also known for its country-fair atmosphere, with costumed characters, and robotic cows and vegetables throughout the stores to keep children entertained while parents shop.
"The Farmingdale location will create hundreds of jobs and support our local agricultural industry, which are both vital to the economic prosperity of Suffolk County and our region," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement. "This has been a long time coming."
A dozen years ago, Stew Leonard's sought to build a 150,000-square-foot grocery store at the intersection of Route 110 and Conklin Street, across the street from Republic Airport in Farmingdale. But the plans eventually fell through after objections by local aviation officials, pilots and the state Department of Transportation, who said the proposed location would put shoppers perilously close to the airport's main flight path.
Airport Plaza is owned by New Hyde Park-based Kimco Realty Corp., a real estate investment trust that is the second-largest public company on Long Island by stock market value, behind Henry Schein Inc.