BROOKLYN, N.Y. - The hiring is underway at the first Wegmans in the city. The Rochester-based supermarket chain has 98 locations in six states and now it's planting its flag at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

"We think Wegmans has the opportunity to be an incredible community asset. So people are able to walk right across the street, go shopping and get food but also have this incredible large employer within their  community," said Katie Beck Sutler, V.P. of Workforce Development at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

With its specialty displays and food-hall-style atmosphere, Wegmans consistently ranks among the most popular supermarket chains. Its Brooklyn outpost will clock in at 74,000 square feet. It is looking to fill 550 positions, including culinary jobs.

"When you think about a supermarket and a lot of times you don’t think about culinary but we have executive chefs, sous chefs entry-level cooks, where you have the opportunity to learn just like if you would go to a single restaurant in New York City. We’ll have the same type of training programs," said Brooklyn Store Manager Kevin Cuff.

The retailer says hiring from the community is a priority. It has met with tenant association presidents from the surrounding Housing Authority developments, and it is working with the Navy Yard’s employment center. They say 50 percent of the applicants so far live in public housing.

“What we did over the course of November and December was to get the word out as extensively as possible," Beck Sutler said. 

Wegmans also mailed thousands of brochures to households in the neighboring communities. The immediate neighborhood has long been a food desert. Wegmans promises to change that with fresh produce and hot food.

"We’ll have a pizza shop right next to our café, a burger bar as well as a restaurant foods where you’ll have anywhere from chicken parm to meatloaf to all different sides and veggies," Cuff said.

The store says there will be a big grand opening in the fall but hasn’t yet set a date.