IDA grants tax break to Restaurant Depot store planned for former Walmart on Route 58

The Riverhead Industrial Development Agency voted Monday in favor of providing tax incentives to Restaurant Depot, which is planning to open a new location at the former Walmart site on Route 58.

The vote came following a public hearing on the proposal at which only one person spoke, who opposed the incentives. Mike Foley of Reeves Park urged the board to reject the tax abatement, saying the landlord of the property is looking to find tenants by repairing the building and is asking the taxpayers to subsidize it. 

“As far as I’m concerned, the IDA is not serving the interests of the taxpayers,” he said. 

He did say that he is not opposed to the IDA helping with construction costs. 

The IDA resolution approving the payment in lieu of taxes schedule as being at $121,749 in “year one,” and gradually increase each year until it reaches $253,860 in year 10. After that, the company will pay full taxes. 

The IDA plans to provide financial assistance in the form of exemptions from sales and use tax, in connection with the purchase or lease of equipment, building materials, and services. Restaurant Depot plans to lease the land from Phillips International, which owns the property. The 65,267 square feet of retail space proposed to be leased by Restaurant Depot was previously occupied by Walmart until its departure in 2014. Walmart opened a new store further west on Route 58.

Craig Miller, the controller of the company at Monday’s IDA hearing, described Restaurant Depot as a cash-and-carry wholesale distributor serving independent restaurant owners, caterers, delis and nonprofits.

“We provide food, equipment and supplies to our customers at the lowest prices possible and require no maximum purchase or membership,” he said.

The company has been looking for an East End location for a while. He said the company thought the former Walmart store on Route 58 was a great location but needed a lot of work and the cost was more than they could justify. 

An inside look at the former Walmart space, which will now be used for a Restaurant Depot. (Courtesy of Philips International)

“It was only after we learned of the IDA program and the assistance that was available did we think it could work for us,” Mr. Miller said. 

Restaurant Depot plans to gut the building and add a new transformer, new gas service and new loading docks, along with improvements to the inside of the building. 

Mr. Miller said the company anticipates investing $6 million into the project, along with assistance from the landlord, Phillips International. 

Small independent restaurants often benefit when a Restaurant Depot opens in an area because they can pay less for supplies, Mr. Miller said. 

Restaurant Depot has 148 open and operational warehouses nationwide, he said. 

The Riverhead location will have 28 employees when it opens, which will be hired from the local community, according to Mr. Miller. 

The company anticipates having 40 employees by year five. 

The store usually operates as a wholesale business, but the Riverhead location will be open to the public, according to Mr. Miller. They expect to be open by the end of this year.