STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Asian Foods store will be cooking with gas — literally — as soon as pipelines are installed in the Mariners Harbor shopping complex in which the soon-to-come grocer is housed. The work at 2343 Forest Ave. finally is underway as of Monday, Feb. 21, said the store’s principal, Jonathan Chan.

“We have no [opening] date set yet as we still have no gas to our store,” said Chan. Although he is hopeful that while National Grid finalizes the work other tasks will be completed — finalizing equipment installation and stocking shelves — leading into a grand opening.

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Where the produce area will be at Asian Foods. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

In the meantime, Chan talked about what Staten Islanders can expect from his operation, relocated from its original borough home in Travis by the Department of Motor Vehicles. It closed in December 2018. The Asian Foods management then announced its move to Mariners Harbor in the Roman Blum shopping complex currently underway at Forest Avenue between South and Northfield Avenues.

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A pharmacy is located next to Asian Foods. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

This new rendition of Asian Foods in Mariners Harbor will have produce bins just as patrons enter the building. To the left and a bit further back, there will be a prepared foods section with to-go and no seating options. That staffed department will unfold along the back wall of the market into the fishmonger’s area. In the middle of the 10,000 square-foot space will be shelves for dry goods — rice, fish sauce, soy sauces and accoutrements particular to Japanese, Vietnamese and Southeast Asian cooking.

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Popeye’s will be the first restaurant at the Roman Blum Plaza. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

Underway now for seven years, the sprawling Mariners Harbor shopping complex in Mariners Harbor, Roman Blum Plaza, will also see a Popeye’s and Burger King, both with sit-down and drive-thru options. The Popeye’s opening is imminent and will be the first restaurant to open in the project. Eventually, a Taco Bell, the “OK” Chinese barbecue eatery and a sushi spot will be in the mix. A Pharmacy and Phoenix Salon also are in development.

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A look at the digital menu board at Popeye’s (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

Waldman’s largest construction project to date, the Roman Blum Plaza is part of a sprawling tract of land with its six buildings and 86,250-square-feet of retail space. It is named for Roman Blum, a Holocaust survivor and real estate developer who had no heirs. His estate had been valued at $40 million and when the Annadale resident died at 97 in 2012 his land was sold off through the public administrator’s office.

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Roman Blum Plaza is named for the late landowner and Staten Islander who was a Holocaust survivor with no heirs. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri0

The legacy continues with a caretaker, Teresa Musial. Musial was the caretaker of Helena Pietrucha, the latter who, attorneys contended, was Blum’s lover during World War II and the pair were separated in Poland during the Holocaust. Pietrucha died in 1999.

Prior Advance articles have chronicled, “Musial was Pietrucha’s caregiver and confidante for over 20 years, and the sole beneficiary of Ms. Pietrucha’s estate, lawyers claim.”

The 2021 email to the Advance directly from Musial said, “I thank Mr. Waldman and his company with great respect and appreciation for honoring the late Roman.”

She also noted, “Please also convey on my behalf to Mr. Waldman and his company wishes for fruitful work, and happiness in this business. May the Lord God take care of him.” Musial expressed her gratitude “that at least one person” will keep his memory.

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].