Jim and Ralph's Produce in Montco being forced to close over eminent domain

Briana Smith Image
Friday, May 24, 2024
Montco business being forced to close to make way for construction
Jim and Ralph's Produce in Montgomery County being forced to close amid eminent domain takeover

LOWER PROVIDENCE TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A popular Montgomery County business is being forced to shut down to make way for construction.

Thousands have signed a petition in an effort to save Jim and Ralph's Produce from eminent domain.

The building on the 3900 block of Ridge Pike in Collegeville is set to be shut down next week.

"This is what we do for a living. It's our family," said Stephen Roberto, who is the co-owner of Jim and Ralph's Produce.

Family and fresh food flourished within the walls of the business for decades.

"It's killing me to figure out what to do," said Dave Roberto, who co-owns Jim and Ralph's Produce. "I love doing what I do."

The business opened its doors in 1972 in Norristown, and its final day will be in Lower Providence Township on Ridge Pike after being in that location for 25 years.

"It will be a struggle the rest of my life. I know that," said Dave. "I make a living and I like it, and as long as people keep coming, I can keep giving. But that's all going down the drain. It's sickening."

"It's frustrating. It's aggravating. It just takes a toll on ya," said Stephen.

Brothers, Dave and Stephen, worked in their father and uncle's store since they were children.

The Robertos said they're forced to leave because of eminent domain.

The township's website states PennDOT is working on a realignment project to improve travel and safety on both sides of the Perkiomen Bridge.

Maps show the Ridge Pike and Germantown Pike intersection will be eliminated and replaced by a new alignment of the roads, so the store will have to be torn down.

"This is going to affect not just our family, but thousands of people. We serve maybe 50 restaurants," said Stephen.

They served Collegeville Italian Bakery down the road for nearly 30 years.

"They're great people," said Patrizia Carcarey, who is the co-owner of the bakery. "They're like family to us. It's a shame because it could have been any of these businesses."

"The community is sad by it," said Steve Carcarey, the bakery's other co-owner. "We're trying to do everything in our power to support them and find them a location."

They hope to find a new home for this family business as they say goodbye to their loyal customers.

"(I) can't even talk," said Stephen as he choked up. "Thanks for coming. Thanks for the support."

Jim and Ralph's Produce is expected to close on June 17.

The Robertos say they'll be compensated for their property, however, it's been difficult to find a new affordable location to rebuild their business.

We reached out to PennDOT on their next steps, and received the following statement:

"When PennDOT acquires right-of-way to construct a project there has been an extensive study which also includes opportunities for public meetings and involvement. In this particular project, we have worked extensively with the Lower Providence Township and also with the County. The purpose of the Ridge Pike and Germantown Pike Intersection Re-alignment Project is to alleviate congestion and travel delay, improve safety, and enhance overall regional mobility on the eastern, or Lower Providence Township, side of the Perkiomen Creek bridge crossing, while accommodating anticipated future traffic needs.

The current intersection of Ridge Pike and Germantown Pike has a variety of deficiencies including poor alignment, geometric deficiencies, intersection congestion and long traffic queues.

In particular, the area where Jim and Ralph's produce is located we will be constructing the relocated intersection of Germantown Pike and Ridge Pike as well as an extension of Ridge Pike to Pechins Mill Road. The proposed Ridge Pike Extension provides for a connection of future Perkiomen Creek crossing consistent with local planning."