Meet the new store, same as the old store.
Asian Food Markets, a long-time tenant in the Princeton Meadows Shopping Center on Plainsboro Road, will be moving to the spot in Plainsboro Plaza on Schalks Crossing Road most recently occupied by the failed SuperFresh store.
Onyx Equities, the owner of Plainsboro Plaza, last month announced a lease with Asian Food Markets to become the property’s anchor tenant by leasing the 43,152-square-foot space. The current plan calls for the market to expand into twice the space as its current location and to conduct a total renovation of the store’s interior.
“They’re ripping it down to the walls,” said Plainsboro mayor Pete Cantu, adding that he hopes that in addition to Asian goods the market also sells “some Western products.”
“They are primarily an Asian market, but I hope they’ll try to provide a balance as far as the offerings are concerned.” Cantu said that the store is also planning to offer prepared food stations for people who want to stop and get something to eat.
Town officials are hoping that the store fares better than the previous tenant, the SuperFresh, which opened in March, 2018, and was closed by October. Another supermarket to try that location — also a SuperFresh — closed in Plainsboro Plaza in 2013. The store, which was owned and operated by Kevin Kim, a Bergen County resident who had several other supermarkets, was part of the Key Food Store Cooperative, a national chain. Cantu says he believes it was a combination of poor management and the mismanagement of expectations within the community that led to the demise of the SuperFresh.
“It wasn’t really a SuperFresh,” Cantu said. “It flew the SuperFresh flag, but it was owned by a Korean gentleman (Kim) who had six or seven food markets. Key Foods bought the SuperFresh flag when A&P went under (the store was originally going to be a Food Emporium when it was first announced).
“As I recall, Key Foods had three or four different brands that they have stores under. He (Kim) was a franchise holder with Key Foods, and I’m not sure whether it was a dictated or negotiated situation as to what flag the store would fly.”
The store wasn’t particularly well run, Cantu said, adding that he wasn’t impressed by the management. “I think he had problems that were beyond Plainsboro in some of his other facilities as well,” Cantu said. “They clearly had issues, and seeing how they left the store, I don’t think it was well-managed.”
According to a news release, Asian Food Markets was founded in 1992 with a single location in Edison, and has expanded throughout New Jersey. The company currently operates four other locations—Jersey City, North Plainfield, Piscataway, and Marlboro. The Plainsboro location has been open since the early 2000s.
“The chain is currently looking for additional sites in northern New Jersey and New York City areas with a high concentration of Eastern and Central Asian residents, said Pete Nicholson of R.J. Brunelli, which brokered the Plainsboro Plaza transaction on behalf of Asian Food Markets.
Meanwhile, the future is still unknown as far as the 20,000-square-foot vacancy the Asian Market is leaving in the Princeton Meadows Shopping Center.
“I think they’ll do okay leasing that space,” Cantu said. “That shopping center seems to do okay. There’s a number of different businesses there, including a bagel shop, pharmacy, pizzeria and a liquor store. I think all retail has struggled a little bit over the past few years, but we seem to be holding our own.”