Vons and Ralphs are the iconic grocers of Los Angeles with local roots going back well over 100 years. Trader Joe’s and Gelson’s began here more than a half-century ago, and plenty of other supermarkets, from Food 4 Less to Whole Foods, have all tried to get a slice of the pie. There’s so many that it’s easy to confuse Superior, El Super, and Super A.
Fresh & Easy was a plan by U.K.-based Tesco to enter the U.S. market in 2007, and—after a failed attempt by billionaire Ron Burkle to save it—the company twice filed for bankruptcy. More than 150 stores were closed when the chain crashed and burned last fall. Where are they now?
Their angular building in Encino is now a plastic surgery clinic, and a Van Nuys location became a dollar store. Many remain empty. The most aggressive bidder for the defunct chain has been Grocery Outlet. The San Francisco bay area-based discount market (with spokespuppets!) has reopened locations in Long Beach, Lakewood, Sun Valley, Azusa, Whittier, Downey, Rosemead, Tujunga, and Compton. Stores in Hollywood, Burbank, and University Park were taken over by CVS.
Next week the Japanese chain Seiwa will open at the former Fresh & Easy in Costa Mesa and they are eyeing a second location in Torrance. Seiwa, founded by the owners of Marukai market in Gardena and now owned by the Hawaiian grocery chain Don Quijote, sells Asian specialty foods like frozen udon and candy bars flavored like matcha tea. Check out their cool grand opening contest. Visit in April and post photos to Facebook. The top 10 most liked pictures will win a $1,000 gift certificate. That’s a lot of natto.