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Restaurant Depot seeks tax breaks from IDA

Restaurant Depot is seeking incentives from the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency to move into a portion of the former Walmart location on Route 58.

Restaurant Depot would be leasing the space from Phillips International, which owns the shopping center and is hoping to lure other new tenants as well.

Restaurant Depot made a presentation to the IDA Monday and will likely be the subject of a public hearing in December.

The company didn’t ask for a specific amount Monday, but said they have worked with IDAs elsewhere in the past and received incentives such as sales tax exemptions, property tax abatements, grants, corporate income tax credits and tax credits for hiring employees.

“Restaurant Depot is a cash-and-carry wholesale distributor servicing independent restaurant owners, delis and nonprofits,” said Craig Miller of Restaurant Depot.

“Our core values are to provide savings, selection and service to our customers,” he said.

“We provide food, equipment and supplies to customers at the lowest price possible and require no minimum purchase or membership fee.”

Currently there are only three Restaurant Depot stores on Long Island and only one in Suffolk County, in Bohemia.

Mr. Miller said they’ve been looking to locate on the East End for a while, when they discovered the Riverhead site, much of which is vacant.

“We thought it was a great location for us, but it needed a lot of work and the cost was in excess of what we thought we could do,” Mr. Miller said. When they discovered the Riverhead IDA, “we realize that could work for us financially,” he said. 

Mr. Miller said restaurants have been hit hard in recent years.

“For the past 20 or so years, independent restaurants have been getting squeezed out of the restaurant industry by national chains,” he said.

Mr. Miller said Restaurant Depot is estimating the total cost of the Riverhead project to be about $6 million, while leaseholder improvements are expected to cost about $2.7 million.

“With the landlord’s help and assistance, we will be gutting the building, adding a new electrical transformer, new gas service and new loading docks,” Mr. Miller said.

Restaurant Depot anticipates opening with 28 newly hired local employees in Riverhead and having two or three experienced employees helping out. By the fifth year, they anticipate more than 40 employees, Mr. Miller said.