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Sunday, September 14, 2014

C-Town sold after Hurricane Sandy
Damaged West End supermarket to reopen as a Key Food
The inside of the store was completely damaged during the storm.

After more than 40 years in business, C-Town, the West End’s only supermarket, has closed its doors after it sustained significant damage during Hurricane Sandy.

Co-owner Rob Koff said that he sold the business in January, and that the 6,000 square foot space will reopen as a Key Food sometime in the spring. C-Town, which has been located at 1080 West Beech St. since 1969, took on three-feet of water during the storm that destroyed $300,000 worth of inventory.

The business did not have flood insurance, Koff said, and it would have cost about $850,000 to rebuild and reopen the supermarket. He explained that his insurance covered less than half of that amount.

“The damage was total — it had to be completely gutted from floor-to-ceiling due to mold, and all the machinery was destroyed,” said Koff, who joined the family-owned business with his brother, Barry, in 1979. “There was no way I was going to go into personal debt in excess of $500,000.”

C-Town was a staple in the West End and had approximately 35 part-time and 15 full-time employees. Koff said that when his father, Irwin, opened the business, it was the first C-Town in the state.

“We’ve been a fixture in the community for the last 40 years — the community has been really good to me,” said Koff, 55, a Lido Beach resident. “It’s a family-run store; we knew most of our customers on a first name basis. It was a very friendly and comfortable atmosphere, it wasn’t the normal supermarket; everyone knew everybody.”

John Bendo, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, said that residents relied on the business and that many now travel to Waldbaum’s on Park Avenue to do their shopping.

“It was a community supermarket — people didn’t come from the East End to come shop at C-Town,” he said. “It was basically everyone between New York and Nevada avenues who shopped there, probably residents in The Walks too.”

Koff said that in the days immediately following the storm, he gave away “anything that was edible and not contaminated” to National Guard troops and volunteers. Last month, he donated the remainder of his inventory that wasn’t destroyed to the Martin Luther King Center’s disaster recovery center.

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