Johnnie's Foodmaster is closing it's doors Sunday, November 18, with most of its shelves bare. There was a somber presence throughout the store by employees worried about where their next job will be and customers buying up the last few discounted items. Employees appeared saddened, knowing their last day of work would soon arrive with no opportunities of employment in the near future. They described their years of work at Johnnie's, as family oriented, due to long-term relations with co-workers and its frequent customer base. Many who will miss their neighborhood grocery store and friendly faces, wondering, "Where are we going to shop, within walking distance for affordable prices to feed our families"?
Several employees worry about where they will be working next and surprised not to be granted the same opportunities to interview at Whole Food stores. Other former employees at locations which are scheduled to be closed, may be extended this courtesy--even while some at this store have dedicated over 20-40 years of service.
To the best of their knowledge, the Alewife site is not slotted to become a Whole Foods, as one person described, "The store will be in the dark after tomorrow and no word of another supermarket will be going in its place".
Another remarked, "There were rumors of the Whole Foods in Medford moving to this location so they can make that site Green Line at Alewife, the last stop on the new Green Line Extension, but that turned out to be untrue".
According to another customer, "There is a lease in place for an additional 12 years, with possibly of a 5 year extension. We are shocked and disappointed with the decision to close the store, since there were discussions to keep it open for an additional 10 years".
Employees were assured that unemployment benefits will be available to them. However, they would rather have full-time jobs with benefits, not unemployment benefits. Some stated they were previously denied a continuation of health care benefits, which was scheduled to end on their last day of work. However, the employer decided to continue their plan for a period of 30 days.
The owner has received an undisclosed sum of money for the sale of previous Johnnie's locations to Whole Foods. Rumor has it it's in the mid-double-digit million range.
The liquor store is not expected to be vacated and will remain until further notice. However, it is unclear what will happen to the flower truck.
The first link below is a story from OnPoint about the surge of part-time employment which relates to this story. I've been told those who are interviewing for jobs at Whole Foods and Stop & Shop, (formerly Johnnie's), are being offered only part-time, low wage jobs (compared to salaries currently made) with no benefits.
The following links are on the Green Line Extension. First, is a map which shows a plan to put the Alewife Train stop on Rt. 16, close to the existing Whole Foods in Medford. The second is the home page of the website with more detailed information.
I'm thinking they may have future plans for the entire roadway because it's the last stop. But what are those plans and when will they be sharing those details with the community? Too many questions still to be answered yet all is silent on the homefront.
SomerVision - Comprehensive plan 2010-2030
1. Action: For areas around the future Green Line stations at Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square and Route 16, establish zoning regulations that will facilitate mixed-use transit-oriented development that is appropriately scaled and designed for each unique neighborhood context. (pg. 36)