Nineteen months after celebrating the opening of the Family Market in the Long Reach Village Center, the community again finds itself without a grocery store.
The Family Market, which combined internationally themed items and basic necessities, has been evicted from the village center by its landlord, Safeway, according to Safeway spokesman Craig Muckle.
According to Muckle, Safeway, which vacated the space in 2011, had been subletting to the Family Market since December 2012. Muckle said the market paid the first month's rent and security deposit in 2011, before moving into the space, but has not paid rent since January of 2012. According to an eviction notice posted in the front window, the market, which is operated by Blue Ocean Enterprises, LLC, owes Safeway $302,038.21 in rent and $55,206.85 in other fees.
The market, which opened in February 2012, has been closed since May when the Howard County Health Department shut it down for powering the grocery store on a generator, which is a safety hazard, according to department spokesperson Lisa DeHernandez.
DeHernandez said the department received a complaint in late April about the store, and followed up in with an investigation resulting in a temporary closure. DeHernandez said the department closed the market while it applied for a permit to run the generator, which would allow temporary use until a permanent solution was reached.
After the store reopened, the department told the owner the store had to be connected to power lines in May, DeHernandez said. DeHernandez said the department did not receive a response, and the store was closed late in the month.
The market's owner has other woes, including a civil complaint filed in Howard County Circuit Court by Cintas-Baltimore that claims the market owes $5,735.12 in payment for uniforms.
The State Comptroller's Office also has filed two liens of unpaid taxes against the market in Howard County Circuit Court, totaling $47,153.42.
While a Safeway spokesman said the store will not reopen, E. Paul Choe, the CEO and president, said the store is hoping to reopen in three to four weeks.
"We had some financial difficulties," Choe said. "Sales dropped. We are trying to get back on our feet."