The new Red Apple supermarket that opens in Fort Greene on Monday doesn’t just want its customers to come from the area — it wants employees to come from there, too.
The market has hired 70 workers for the Myrtle Avenue store, many from the nearby from the Whitman and Ingersoll Houses — and the last few slots were set to be filled in the same way.
“Almost all the jobs have gone to people from the area,” said Renee Flores, human resources director of the supermarket chain, which owns more than 30 groceries citywide. “We had such a tremendous outpouring from the community.”
The store hired most people after a job fair at the Ingersoll Community Center on Sept. 26, working with local elected officials.
“When businesses move into our community the jobs should go to the people of our community,” said Democratic District Leader Lincoln Restler, who helped organize the job fair.
The goal is not simply helping out the unemployed, but to “build a bond in the community,” said Flores. “People want to shop where they work, and they encourage friends to shop there, too.”
Jobs have been a scarce commodity in the neighborhood for years.
Unemployment among the 8,700 residents of the two projects on the west edge of Fort Greene Park is a chronic problem, especially among African-Americans. One 2009 study registered a 27-percent unemployment rate among blacks in and around Fort Greene.
That will change, albeit slightly, on Monday, with the opening of the supermarket in area that has been without a real grocery store since 2006, when billionaire developer and Red Apple CEO John Catsimatidis tore down an Associated supermarket near the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Ashland Place to build a 95-unit apartment complex called The Andrea.
Catsimatidis is making good on his promise to bring a grocer back to the area — and named the store Red Apple in honor of the first supermarket he opened in New York four decades ago.
Red Apple grand opening ceremony (218 Myrtle Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene), Oct. 31, 9:30 am.