Frank Felix Zapata, General Secretary of the National Supermarket Association in New York and owner of four supermarkets is a Dominican who managed to reinvent himself and succeed in the supermarket industry after leaving his homeland to venture into the United States.
Zapata’s life in the Dominican Republic was very different. He graduated with honors from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo with a degree in economics, and during the government of Joaquín Balaguer in the late 1980s, he held numerous administrative positions. This experience awakened Zapata’s interest in becoming a politician, but his aspirations ended when he lost in the elections.
When the doors of political life closed, Zapata decided to travel to the United States in search of new opportunities. He found a new way to make a living in New York, working in supermarkets.
His approach to supermarkets
“I started working in a supermarket at 2358 University Avenue with the Frias family, Jose and Andres. They give me the opportunity, and I start from the bottom. Still, sometime later, they transferred me to the office because of my knowledge of economics,” recalls Zapata in a dialogue with Abasto.
Then José Frías allowed Zapata to manage the grocery store, where he learned how to manage all aspects of the business.
Amid this growth process in the supermarket business in 2002, Zapata joined the National Supermarket Association (NSA) as an associate member. This association offers members for their growth and advocates for legislation to protect independent Hispanic supermarkets.
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Zapata’s first stores
Frank Felix Zapata’s next step in his new life in the United States was to own his grocery store, a 7,000-square-foot establishment in Brooklyn.
“The first opportunity is given, and I must thank Andres Frias, who was my co-debtor before Krasdale, and my two brothers, who I also counted on in that first initiative. We went through some turbulence, but thanks to God, we survived”.
Already a supermarket owner, Frank Felix Zapata was accepted as an NSA board of directors member.
His enthusiasm for the industry led him to purchase a second supermarket in the Rego Park area of Queens. He bought his third store at 3220 3rd Ave. in the Bronx four years ago. On April 1, 2022, he purchased his fourth supermarket, 680 Main St., in Patterson, New Jersey, a predominantly Hispanic area.
The four stores are also a great source of employment for the local community, directly employing more than 200 people and indirectly benefiting close to 600, something Zapata is very proud of.
On the other hand, he has always been willing to support the work of the NSA. In previous years, he held the position of treasurer, where he applied his knowledge of economics. He is currently the General Secretary of the association, which groups more than 600 supermarkets in the Tri-State area, including New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Past, Present and Future
Looking to the future, Frank Felix Zapata does not rule out the possibility of opening a fifth store. However, despite the hard work of managing four supermarkets, he enjoys every moment of his business.
“What I enjoy most is being able to employ, to provide service, and to have a healthy life,” Zapata said. He also acknowledged that when he arrived in the United States, he never imagined becoming the owner of four supermarkets, but he found unconditional support to get ahead.
“With God, the love of my brothers, and the support of great friends like Andrés Frías, I had the opportunity to progress, and as a great thinker said, triumph is only achieved by combining three factors: experience, patience, and opportunity. But first God,” concluded Zapata.
Frank Felix Zapata
- Country of origin: Dominican Republic
- Education: Economist / Autonomous University of Santo Domingo
- Experience: NSA Board Member / NSA Treasurer / NSA General Secretary
- Achievements: Owner of four supermarkets in the New York Tri-State area