Old grocery store getting new future

Vacant LeRay market

TOWN OF LERAY, N.Y. (WWNY) - To some people who drive along State Route 3 in the town of LeRay, an old grocery store might not look like much, but to property owner LeRoy Burnham it means a whole lot.

“I got a dream, to make a nice local thing,” he said.

Burnham says he was in the grocery business for two decades and he couldn’t stand to see the old Barbalich’s Market empty, so he decided to buy it and open it back up.

But there have been a few roadblocks along the way.

Burnham spent more than three years at odds with the town of LeRay over the building’s use.

Tuesday night the Jefferson County planning board approved a site plan for a mixed-use building where the former grocery store stands.

With a few more phone calls and some permits information to work out, he should be on the road to getting food back on the shelves.

“I’m getting close,” he said. “I’m getting real close and I’ve had nothing but support from everyone.”

Burnham hopes to call the new and improved store the Maple Market and sell cheeses, meats, and -- you guessed it -- maple products, all made in the north country.

A sign that’s still hanging after all these years is why Burnham says he will keep pushing to make it happen.

“It’s about customer service, caring for someone,” he said. “That’s what it’s about. You can move a mountain if you care.”

His next mountain to move will be spending $150,000 to spruce up the space. It’s money well spent to a man with a plan for a vacant grocery store on State Route 3.

Attached to the old market was a barbecue joint, which was shut down by the town because it lacked the approvals it needed.

Tuesday’s planning board decision would allow that business to come back into the building.

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