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California-based Bristol Farms has decided to close the Newfound Market that it opened in the Irvine Spectrum shopping mall in March 2022.

The 34,000 square-foot unit had been promoted as a combination grocery market and food hall, with the latter including more than a half-dozen self-created restaurant brands.  When the store opened, Bristol Farms CEO Adam Caldecott had describe dit as "the next iteration of the Bristol Farms brand," with the goal of making it "a foodie destination for the City of Irvine and Southern California.”

Employees in the store were told of the closing within the last few days, and Bristol Farms management reportedly is endeavoring to find as many of them jobs within the company as feasible.

The store is scheduled to be closed at the end of January.

KC's View:

To be clear, I totally bought into what Bristol Farms was trying to do.  In fact, I did a story and video about it, which you can access here.

Looking back, it seems likely that the mall location was the biggest problem that Bristol Farms had to face - the Irvine Spectrum is a destination mall, without a lot of nearby housing, and clearly the geography put a ceiling on the traffic and transactions the store could generate.

This was a fabulous store, but (speaking only for myself) I ignored something I often have written about malls - for the most part, supermarkets are a bad fit.  Customer mindsets are different when they go to the mall as opposed to when they go to the supermarket - I've long argued here that supermarkets are better for malls than malls are for supermarkets.  I've even argued that malls ought to offer supermarkets several years of free rent, and thank them profusely for drawing more people in than might go to the mall otherwise.

I'm sure that Bristol Farms learned a lot from the Irvine store - not just about geography, but also about the operating a food hall/grocery store combo.  I was reading a piece in Urbanize Los Angeles the other day about Bristol Farms' next planned store - on Selma Avenue in Los Angeles, just a block or so from the corner of Hollywood and Vine, on the street level of Modera Argyle, a new mixed-use residential complex with 276 apartments.  Plus, the surrounding neighborhood is dense with residences - it is almost the opposite situation from what Bristol Farms was dealing with in Irvine.  

Expect Bristol Farms to do a first-class job of figuring out how to take all the things that worked creatively in Irvine and bring them to Hollywood.  After all, the show must go on.