Many longtime, non-Asian residents of Flushing, Queens are feeling slighted with food choices ever since the Key Foods in the area shut down. The closure left Asian markets as the only local source for groceries, and locals are demanding that they start carrying normal, boring, Western stuff like bologna and bagels. Local Rosa Febles told the WSJ (paywall), "Most of the supermarkets in the area are Asian markets and all they have is just one single aisle of food for us. We feel a little left out." And don't ask them to go to the Met Food on Browne Street; apparently it caters to a "nearby Latino population." When will the white people catch a break?
Community leaders say the issue is that most of the non-Asian population of Flushing are elderly, and can't walk long distances to get their groceries. "The problem is that the older folks in the neighborhood, they haven't got a place to go buy their Entenmann's," said Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association. Residents also complain that they feel excluded when businesses don't post signs in English. "I feel like a stranger in my own neighborhood," said resident Mary Ann Boroz.
Flushing Assemblywoman Grace Meng already put together a board to encourage businesses to post in English, and said she wants to bridge the food gap. "I'm also an Asian-American and I buy American products for my children," she said. "I do admit that there are times that I can't find what I need in downtown Flushing." But business owners say the market is pretty much sink or stock fish sauce. Ira Gross of Dan's Supreme Supermarkets, which operated the downtown Flushing Key Food, said, "It appeared destined to be an ethnic operator." And Capalbi said, "The people who take over these stores, it's not that they're trying to exclude people, but they know what's familiar to them."