Center Food Market to close after five decades in business

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MANASQUAN — Center Food Market, a Main Street fixture in Manasquan for more than 50 years, will close its doors on April 29.

Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties, which also has locations in Sea Girt and Point Pleasant Beach, will move into the space.

Howard and Linda McKeon have operated Center Food Market for the past 45 years. Although closing Center Food Market is “very bittersweet,” Mrs. McKeon said it was also the right time.

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The McKeons said they had been approached by Joe Leone’s last January and negotiated for about a year before deciding to rent the location to Joe Leone’s so Mr. McKeon could retire.

“It didn’t take long to feel like it was the right thing,” Mrs. McKeon said. “A lot of people think that the pandemic pushed us over the edge … but I think we pretty much had our mind set before.”

“We just felt like we wanted to go out on a high,” she added. Although the pandemic was not the reason for closing, Mrs. McKeon said that COVID-19 and the challenges of the past year have made the decision a bit easier.

The McKeons said navigating the pandemic, which altered the way they conduct business, has been stressful. For example, Mrs. McKeon said that the pandemic impacted the catering aspect of the business because people haven’t been gathering as much as they used to.

Despite the challenges, Mr. McKeon is proud to have stayed open throughout the past year.

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