MONTVALE, N.J. - The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., best known to grocery shoppers as A&P, says it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company, founded in 1859, says it will have access to $800 million in debtor-in-possession financing and that all of its 395 stores, which are located in eight states in the eastern U.S., are fully stocked and open for business.

The filing by the company, headquartered in Montvale, was widely anticipated. The company's stock price fell more than 67 percent on Friday, and trading was halted in the afternoon. Shares have traded between 86 cents and $13 in the past 52 weeks.

The company owns A&P, Waldbaums, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh, Pathmark and Food Basics grocery stores.

A&P is one of the oldest supermarket operators in the country. Its first store was in New York City and sold tea, coffee and spices. It expanded across the nation and by the 1930s was the largest grocer in the country.

After more of a decade of decline, the Hartford family that owned the business sold the majority of it in 1979 to the German retail group the Tengelmann Group.

Activist investor Ron Burkle is also a significant stockholder in the company.