Fresh & Easy closing all U.S. stores; 32nd Avenue location to close soon

Shopper lines up for the grand opening in June 2011

Shopper lines up for the grand opening in June 2011

Many readers sent us the news yesterday about Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market’s announcement that they will be closing their remaining U.S. stores.

It’s been a long time coming. In April 2013, parent company Tesco announced that they would be closing all 200 of the chain’s stores, citing poor sales.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013 and was purchased by Los Angeles-based billionaire Ron Burkle, co-founder and managing partner of Yucaipa Cos., which specializes in turning around underperforming companies [Mercury News]. But Burkle was unable to revive the struggling chain.

Fresh & Easy positioned itself as a “neighborhood market” with a smaller store size than typical grocery store chains – about 10,000 square feet – and an emphasis on busy consumers who could quickly grab fresh food for dinner on the way home and use self-service checkouts.

On Wednesday, Tesco announced it will liquidate inventories in its remaining 97 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. All 3,000 of the chain’s employees will be laid off, with the first layoffs starting next week.

We have not confirmed when the 32nd Avenue location will close, but you can expect some fire sales on their remaining inventory in the coming weeks.

Mayor Ed Lee was on hand for the opening and helped present a check from the store to the RDNC

Mayor Ed Lee was on hand for the opening and helped present a check from the store to the RDNC

Mixed Reviews From Neighbors

Fresh & Easy opened to much fanfare in June 2011. Neighbors were excited to finally have a supermarket back in that location after the former Albertson’s shuttered in 2006. CVS Pharmacy also opened up next door.

But the concept of Fresh & Easy never quite took off. Much of the store’s produce was packaged in plastic, and the self-service checkout model seemed to flummox some shoppers.

One reader named Bob said that despite other’s complaints, his experience at Fresh & Easy on 32nd Avenue was good.

“I’ll miss the store. I liked that it was never crowded and you could get in and out quickly. I liked their prepared salads and meals (well, some of them) and loved their almond milk (never tasted any better than theirs). For a time I saved a ton of money using all their coupons/discounts; that was curtailed with new management, but never entirely. And the employees, including the current manager, were helpful and friendly,” Bob told us.

Packaged produce

Packaged produce

What’s next for the space

So far there’s no word on when the 32nd Avenue location will officially close.

An empty grocery space in the outer Richmond will undoubtedly get people’s hopes up that a Trader Joe’s could finally open in the neighborhood. In fact you can tell TJ’s you want them to move in there on their website.

What would you like to see open in the space? Let’s just hope another 5 years doesn’t go by while we wait.

Sarah B.

A gleaming aisle on opening day

A gleaming aisle on opening day

Some special parking made available for Fresh & Easy shoppers

Some special parking made available for Fresh & Easy shoppers


  1. A TRADER JOES, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s a no brainer. Tons of parking with a double decker lot, the right size, none in the area. We’re DESPERATE for one. TJs, are you listening?

  2. Wasn’t that site built for an Albertsons that fizzled out?
    Love the idea of TJ’s but would also welcome Andronico’s, Mollie Stones, or even Whole Foods. Another good use might be a farmers market or a co-op like
    Other Avenues on Judah.
    If it remained as some sort of retail grocery, the F&E employees might be suitable grocery new hires.

  3. Thedude – I remember when this was a Safeway; it was their location before taking over the land previously owned by Playland at the Beach. Now that Albertson’s owns both Safeway and Lucky, there are not many options for non-deluxe market chains. Andronico’s used to be Park & Shop, owned by the Andronico family and now is owned by VCs. Mollie Stones used to be Grand Central Market, part of the small grocer cooperative which included Lick Super on Sixth near Clement, now a Smart & Final and. Cala (also known as QFI for Quaity Foods Inc for a period) and Petrinis are gone. There’s nobody left except for specialists at the low and high ends and multinational corporations. There used to be loads of independent mom and pop groceries, each with a different specialty of meat, deli, produce on Geary, Clement and Balboa along with independent pharmacies (all compounding) which have vanished through consolidation.

    Whatever we think we want to replace this market, Supervisor Mar will select.

  4. PLEASE spread the word to send a request to the Trader Joe’s link above. I just did and they made it very easy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful . . .

  5. Neighbors might not welcome Trader Joe’s if traffic in the area is a mess from the crowds. Albertsons had to jump through various hoops to satisfy the neighbors to open at that location only to closed a year after it opened. The property was abandoned and surrounded by a chain link fence for several years before Fresh and Easy and CVS took over the property.

    Neighbors would want a decent-enough store without the traffic nightmare that potential Trader Joe’s crowds might bring. The property is large enough that chain retail business can afford its rent and upkeep…or an independent mom and pop store owner with seriously deep pockets to move into the space.

  6. I’ll miss Fresh and Easy. It was very convenient having them so close. I hope this has no negative impact on the CVS staying. TJ’s would be a great alternative. Thanks for the link RichmondWow. I let them know.

  7. Would love to see what Supervisor Mar says about this…. and if his office is at all engaged in trying to get another grocery to go into this location.

  8. ‘It’s a long time coming’ actually makes sense in this context, though it sounds absurd considering the store essentially just moved in. But I think most of us could have told them what was wrong with the store the week it opened, and saved them a lot of trouble. They didn’t understand the neighborhood, most of all. I actually liked the store a lot but barely shopped there. Whatever that means.

  9. You can do a store location request for Whole Foods, too, by going here http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/customer-service and selecting ‘Store Location Request’ in the menu at the bottom. Or maybe someone can think of something more interesting, or e-mail them all – Bi-Rite, Rainbow, Berkeley Bowl? Get creative!

  10. Trader Joe’s could have moved in after Albertsons shut, but didn’t. I think Sprouts would be a nice addition to the neighborhood. They sell organics, have delis, meat and fish counters, and bulk foods.

  11. I lived on 31st and California for a while and was always confused about why that site seemed so difficult re. keeping a store open. Maybe, with Lincoln Park there and Land’s End close, the slight decrease in population density makes all the difference. A Sprouts, Whole Paycheck, Andronico’s, or even TJ would be nice at that location but not sure that makes economic sense for those guys given that even Safeway and Albertson’s couldn’t make a go of it there.

  12. Please, ANYTHING but Whole Foods. We don’t need overpriced hippie-woo and anti-GMO scaremongering, we just need a quick and easy grocery store for people in this neighborhood to get in, get out, and not spend and arm and a leg.

    F&E wasn’t spectacular, but I remember what it was like to have no legit grocery stores nearby, and I’m definitely not looking forward to going back to that. What a bummer.

  13. I’ll miss Fresh & Easy. No lines, no crowds. The prices weren’t the best but they were fine. It was a stress free shopping experience.

  14. Although I love Trader Joe’s I think the space is too small for them, and the increased traffic to the neighborhood could be a negative. I don’t have any other bright ideas for a replacement, though. I really liked F&E under the original ownership, but products changed and prices spiked under the new owners. I’m not surprised they’re closing, but I will miss a couple of their branded products.

  15. Whole Foods, please. Say no to GMOs. I am not a science experiment.

  16. Why not build a bunch of housing for low income senior citizens and move the seniors out of all the low income housing we have in SOMA? The Richmond is a better location for this demographic and we can then build market rate housing at those other locations. It’s win-win!

  17. Not a TJ fan. Would like to see a Sprouts, Mollie Stones or Bristol Farms.

  18. Karl Young – Safeway did have a long run at this location. They abandoned it after Playland closed in 1973 and bought that Ocean Beach land because it offered a larger parking lot. The condos closer to the beach came much later.

    SF Resident – Isn’t your suggestion what already happened to the Coronet Theater?

    Because ABAG has determined that SF will bear the brunt of global human overpopulation for the entire Bay Area, basic necessities such as food, healthcare, parks and transportation infrastructure must be addressed before jamming more population in. If readers have been paying attention almost all of the hospitals and emergency rooms in the western half of SF have been systematically removed over the past 30 years. Putting more seniors in an area where they are far away from their most heavily used services will only lead to more traffic congestion. Think about it.

  19. 4THGENRICHMOND – Good point; I only judged it by the short tenure I saw and the fact that it wasn’t looking too prosperous near the end.

    CHUCK – hippie-woo and anti-GMO scaremongering is exactly what the Outer Richmond needs ! Though I guess that since I’m now an Inner Richmond guy it’s not really fair of me to call for that…

  20. I would LOVE a Trader Joe’s and a PHARMACA store next door (wish CVS would close that location!) this would be like the TJ’s / Pharmaca side-by-side combo on College Ave in Oakland. the property sizes are probably similar. Please go the the TJ website and request a store for this location; http://www.traderjoes.com/contact-us/location-request

  21. No, we don’t need a Whole Paycheck there. What we need is specifically something like what we have at 23rd and Clement, a family-owned produce market. We need either another New May Wah, or another El Grande.

  22. I would gladly take a Whole Foods or BiRite. The neighborhood demographic isn’t what it used to be 5 years ago. I think there is enough traffic to support a higher end grocer. We already have plenty of low end (Smart and Final, Ocean Beach-Safeway), lots of good small vegetable markets (El Chico, Thom’s Natural Foods) but getting a decent cut of meat or fresh fish currently requires crossing town.

  23. Anthony, no it doesn’t. A&K Meats is right down the street at 25th and Clement. They have an excellent meat selection, and if you want something more varied, New May Wah has a great fish selection, and there’s a market at 19th and Geary that also has fresh fish and meat.. These places are great because there’s actual butchers there. We should be supporting family-run and local places, not the big name stores.

  24. I’ll miss Fresh & Easy – but once Tesco’s sold it, my love for it diminished.
    Still, this was a good market for days when I needed something and didn’t feel like schlepping across the neighborhood. Hope the employees can find new gigs that they like!

  25. @4THGENRICHMOND – Don’t forget Sutro Super where Walgreens is, and Petrini’s where Albertson’s is, on Fulton and Masonic, among others. I remember the Safeway, too, and going there closing week. It was then abandoned ~1994 I would say until around 2000? Then Albertson’s, then another gap of about 5+ years before F&E. Each time there has been a big debate about the best use of the space.

  26. @4THGENRICHMOND – Safeway was open a good twenty years at 32nd and Clement after Playland closed.

  27. @JER: New May Wah doesn’t really stock organics, etc, does it? I agree the demographic in the Richmond has shifted fairly dramatically, even in the last two years, to my eyes. Whole Foods would do fine.

  28. Ed, You’re correct on the timeline. I did not patronize that Safeway or Sutro Super as they are far west of me but knew it well as my 22nd Avenue aunt shopped there and continued to do so for many years after she sold her home and insisted we take her to shop there when we were her dementia caregivers even though it was out of our way. She passed away before that Safeway closed.

    Petrini’s became Fallettis then Albertsons. I go to butchers who trained at Lick and Falletti (but not the lower Haight incarnation of Falletti) even though it is out of my way because better quality in less quantity costs a lot less in the long run.

    I honestly do not know what is the best solution for this location is because the Politburo at City Hall will decide for us. Still waiting on something to de-blight the Alexandria.

  29. Karl – The Politburo emerged with the assassination of Moscone. Safeway had been around for decades by then.

  30. Nah to whole foods. I like their stuff but it’s over priced for what it’s worth. I would prefer a more local grocery like Mollie Stone or Bryan’s. Something that provides decent meat. AK meats is okay and I like the lady that runs it. But it doesn’t compare to the meats at other places. I like how Mollie stone and Bryan’s have real butchers. Sprouts seems to do well in Daly City.

  31. There are a lot of small shops here in San Francisco that I like all over town. What I do not like is having to drive and fight parking, or take Muni and kill 1/2 a day to patronize them.

    I would like to see the space set up as a place where a lot of small shop overs around San Francisco could rent a stall and sell their goods in one place. I like the ravioli from Lucca on Valencia street and a lot of other things from around town. If The City is serious about having us not drive and shop local, then they need to create a space where we can get the great things that the whole city has to offer without us having to drive or kill 1/2 a day to get them.

  32. I hope so! I don’t want another goddamn Bargain Market Grocery Outlet. Hell, I’d rather have a Safeway there than that shitty excuse of a grocery.

  33. JD – One of the primary reasons 32nd and has not done well since Safeway left is because Muni routes serving that location have been cut. It’s down to the 1 California and 38 Geary, neither of which stop within a short block of the parking lot. The 2 Clement used to end at 33rd, now it loops at Park Presidio. The 31 Balboa used to end at 33rd & Anza and was switched to Ocean Beach. The 28 19th Avenue used to traverse the Richmond side of GG Park on 25th Avenue (leaving Park Presidio for intercounty transit offered by Greyhound from far in the north all the way through San Jose, some is now Golden Gate Transit) to Lake Street which was cut to Geary by residents claiming the 29 Sunset which replaced part of the route was noisy and invasive.

    I’ve been here long enough to remember when there were 10% of the current traffic and parking signs on streets. Many streets that did not have Muni routes had signs prohibiting vehicles over 3 Tons, now almost none do.

    A market offering stalls has been something I have dreamed of for decades but due to city fees and regulations, the cost of operating one will result in another Ferry Plaza and its politics.

  34. 4THGENRICHMOND:: Interesting history of local transit (altho you’re wrong about the 1 — it stops right near F&E). But it’s hard to imagine that public transport is make or break for a supermarket.

  35. Bob – The #1 is now the only Muni line at that location. There used to be 4-5 within one short block.

  36. Yeah, the 1 stops directly in front of F&E. But true there used to be more transit. Would be great if it was turned into a Market a la Ferry Building or Furniture Mart. I think it’s officially proven big box will not do well there (though I assume TJ’s and WH-type stores would do fine).

  37. Lucky’s is at Fulton and Masonic, and not Albertson’s. It’s actually my preferred regular grocery store. Plenty of underground parking and good produce.

  38. @Franz: Oh, it used to be Alberton’s but aren’t they basically the same (same company)? Their produce used to be literally the worst. Maybe it has changed.

  39. I think the VA medical center is looking for more space. This location would be a good spot to expand their research operations.

  40. Jack – VAMC research is primarily done by UCSF (one of SF’s largest employers and real estate holders).

    Franz – Albertsons now owns both Lucky and Safeway. It is as yet unknown what Safeway will be rebranded to. Albertsons used to be owned by an Idaho corporation and was big in the Central Valley, not along the coast back in the 1970s. They made their move into SF on acquiring Lucky. Lots of LDS money in the grocery business; think about that when you buy eggs and look at the packaging (one example).

  41. Definitely NOT a Whole Foods. A TJs would be great. I buy my produce from 25th and Clement, so no need to worry about TJs produce.

  42. 4THGENRICHMOND – True that most of the research done at the VA is done by UCSF faculty but the facilities and much of that research are funded by the VA. And though there is an organization (NCIRE) meant to carefully negotiate grant overhead costs between UCSF and the VA, the VAMC would definitely not consider itself part of the UCSF real estate empire. Any plans or deployment of new research facilities would be strictly controlled by the feds, i.e. the VA (though the nature of the facility would certainly be influenced by the UCSF faculty that would be doing research there).

  43. F&E wasn’t that great. It was too expensive, and the produce was never that good. Youse guys are all succumbing to some BS nostalgia.

    …and the fact that the self checkouts bothered people or confused them, just speaks to how most people shouldn’t be breeding.

    I really hope that a Woo Foods or TJ’s doesn’t open in the neighborhood. I agree with some of the others saying how don’t think we need anti-GE scaremongering in this neighborhood. I am sick to death of all the misinformation places like WF and TJ’s spread about transgenic foods. F&E was guilty of perpetuating that crap… but no where near as intolerable as a Woo Foods.

    We could use another, more affordable, option in the neighborhood. Look at how great the Grocery Outlet does.
    The produce is questionable, but otherwise it’s great. Another store with different, affordable selection would be awesome here.

  44. To Trader Joes,

    As you’re probably aware Fresh and Easy filed for bankruptcy and are closing down all U.S. locations.

    Fortunately for you there will be a 10,000 square foot lot available in a quiet neighborhood (31st & Clement – San Francisco, California) where busy consumers meet quite families.

    The nearest Grocery Store (Grocery Outlet) is 7 blocks away and doesn’t suffice us SF natives as we have acquired a taste for healthier, organic alternatives over the years such as: (i.e., Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Mollie Stones, Sprouts etc…)


  45. To: “other Jacob”

    Exactly what substantiates your claim that organic foods are more healthy? No studies with any value support this claim. And if i hear any conspiracy theory twaddle, my response will be “grow up.”

    What this “need” for more high-end, designer food really smacks of is a social issue that your ilk tends to believe that they are on the progressive side of, when really, the attitude is nothing more than a thin veneer of self-congratulatory superciliousness, which attracts gentrification and, more often than not, goes full NIMBY, with little to no self-awareness.

    It makes no sense to have such a high-end store in a part of the city, where a lot of the population is poor and elderly, and quite a few are non-white. You and yours have Thom’s for all your woo-woo needs.

    I second Calvin’s suggestion of something like a Target express… convenient, but not bank-breaking, and with a nice selection.

    And yes, i am aware that Target sells “organic” items. However, it does not appear that Target takes sides on the GM issue, and for Target, it really comes down to the point of: do you want to spend three dollars on a loaf of wheat bread, or 10 dollars on a loaf of wheat bread?

    We don’t need Trader Joe’s; we don’t need Mollie Stone’s; we don’t need a Whole Foods or one of the many simulacra thereof. We need affordable food for real people, and better science education in our schools so our children can learn the facts about genetic engineering, and what the word “organic” actually means.

  46. Holy shit. I just learned what a “Pharmaca” store is.

    … okay… integrative medicine… that means they are supportive of all types of woo that a real doctor wouldn’t get within 10km of. Cupping, Gluten-free (for non-celiacs), teas, herbs, acupuncture…

    Ooh! I wonder if i could buy a trepan there… you know; so i can let the demons out of my child’s skull to stop his nightmares, while i bleed him to restore balance in his humours.


    …oi…You people…

  47. Why would a large chain retailer (Target) invest a bunch of capital in building out a storefront in an area with relatively low density and low foot traffic, especially when practically everything that retailer offers can be delivered to one’s home in 24 hours for about the cost of feeding a parking meter.
    And, what impact would a Target have on the local mom and pop grocers and retailers on Clement, Geary and California Street? We shoppers could save some pennies at the cost of having our neighborhood feel more like a strip mall. What’s next? a Panda Express for Hong Kong Lounge or a Chipolte for Chino’s? In terms of affordability I don’t think saving a few pennies on toilet paper and tortillas is worth stripping the neighborhood of it’s locally owned and operated.
    Whatever goes in that space needs to be enticing enough that it’s worth it to people to get in their cars, hop on their bikes, or catch the bus to go there.

  48. Such a cursed location. What store would survive there?? The place will stay empty another ten years before anything goes up there. What a joke. I used to only do mini-shopping at F&E. Mostly shopped at Trader Joe’s. Liked F&E’s almond milk. Will miss that.

  49. A Trader Joe’s would be an awesome & welcomed addition. I hope they jump on this opportunity fast!

  50. I hope from the deepest of my heart that it will be a Trader Joe’s there! I did major shopping at Fresh N Easy yesterday as everything is at least 50% off. I could not believe that there was still beer and plenty of wine! I’ve heard some people say that that area cannot support a market. I agree but I disagree more. It depends what kind of market. If it’s a Trader Joe’s that could maybe take over at least the Fresh N Easy space–and maybe the CVS space and have a coffee bar and benches upstairs (or even have a Starbucks on the roof there), it would be just perfect and I would be over there once or twice a week. I think for those who are looking for a less expensive market, there’s Grocery Outlet it’s excellent. Grocery Outlet doesn’t get the credit it deserves from some people commenting here. If you’re bashing it and you haven’t really shopped there, then stop it. They have all of the basics and if you look in their organic section, they have items that you buy at Whole Foods. They also have very nice produce as well as organic produce. I always though read labels to see the origin of the food.

  51. 2 days left at Fresh N Easy if you’re interested in groceries (as of yesterday, there was enough to make my shopping worthwhile on things I use)

  52. after buying a couple items that we didn’t realize had already passed their freshness date and having a hard time dealing with the convoluted checkout system…we nicknamed it “Stale and Difficult”…nuff said. TJs, please!

  53. Richmond Neighbors,

    I’m pursuing the Fresh & Easy grocery stores with a client, and the store lease assignment bidding process should be completed by December 7th and then confirmed by the end of December.

    Happy holidays,

    Alex Kent
    Managing Broker

    Mobile (650) 793-0541
    Office (650) 232-7433

    • Real Estate Strategy • Financial Analysis • Advertising/Marketing
    • Valuation • Leasing • Subleasing • Acquisitions • Permitting
    • Community Relations • Government Relations • Dispositions
    • Complex Contract Negotiations • Property Management

    Northwestern University – Kellogg MBA Finance and Marketing
    California Bureau of Real Estate – Real Estate Broker License 01718732
    $78,000,000 in Real Estate Lease and Sale Contracts Negotiated Since 2005.
    $425,000,000 in Tech Alliance Contracts Negotiated Since 1996.

  54. sprouts! Or whole foods! or Trader Joe’s! For Mollie stones! Or Andronico’s! Please. Thank you.

  55. CVS just picked up the rest of the building…

  56. Wow…disappointment abounds. I was hoping for a quality grocery store and a Starbucks:Peet’s on the roof. I shopped at CVS twice (the first time the guy messed up my photo order so badly that I got it for 1/2 price). The store seems empty (people) and disorganized at the checkout area. Bummer for my neighborhood

  57. That’s kind of a bummer. Does anybody know if their plan is to expand into both halves of the building, or can they sublease to something (most of us seem to feel is) more desirable?

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