- Bristol Farms Newfound Market in Irvine, California, will close by early February, Neil Stern, CEO of the grocer’s parent company Good Food Holdings, said in an email.
- Less than two years after opening, the Bristol Farms’ store is leaving the Irvine Spectrum Center and shuttering a location that focused heavily on foodservice and digital innovation.
- “The decision to close the Irvine location was driven by that particular store’s performance [and] not the elements that were part of the Newfound Market concept itself,” Stern wrote. “The Bristol Farms team did an amazing job of executing the ideas around Newfound but ultimately we couldn’t overcome the challenges of being in a shopping center, even one as successful as Irvine Spectrum.”
Situated in an outdoor shopping mall, the 34,000-square-foot supermarket features a food hall and Italian restaurant Viaggio Pizzeria, which marked the first full-service dining venue in the Bristol Farms chain.
At the food hall, shoppers could order meals from fast-casual venues such as Horton’s Hot Chicken, Swell Seafood, goodgreens, Rooted Plant-Based Plates and PikaPika. The store also has a European-inspired café serving coffee, smoothies, fresh-pressed organic juices, acai bowls and brunch food.
Along with the typical grocery aisles and counters, shoppers can also find tableware and decor in the store’s housewares department and vitamins, supplements and body care in a “natural living” department.
Bristol Farms CEO Adam Caldecott had called the store "the next iteration of the Bristol Farms brand” with the plan to make it "a foodie destination for the City of Irvine and Southern California,” according to MorningNewsBeat, which first reported the news about the store’s closure.
“It is always painful to close a store but we will take away a lot of great ideas that will live on in other Bristol Farms and within the GFH banners. In particular, some of our innovations with branded foodservice (PikaPika sushi, Horton’s Hot Chicken) will show up in new and remodeled locations and many of the recipes and item innovation are making their way into the chain,” Stern wrote.
The Irvine store was also one of the locations that Good Food Holdings tapped to try out tech solutions before rolling out banner- or company-wide. For example, the store piloted several of Instacart’s Connected Stores offerings such as Caper smart carts, prepared food-ordering software FoodStorm and electronic shelf labels known as Carrot Tags.
When the store opened, it sported robotic food preparation equipment that could handle tasks like mixing rice and cutting sushi rolls. Its general manager said at the time that the location would be the first under the Bristol Farms banner to offer self-checkout stations.
Stern said that GFH will continue to work with Instacart on the connected store concept, which includes smart carts, FoodStorm and electronic shelf tags, noting that elements of the program are now in Bristol Farms’ Santa Monica and Woodland Hills stores.
“[The Irvine store closure] does not change our focus on making the shopping experience easier and more exciting for our customers, which is the main focus of our innovation efforts,” Stern wrote. “You’ll continue to see this occur within all of our GFH locations.”
Stern said that the company is working to find jobs at nearby stores for affected associates. Bristol Farms currently operates 14 stores in Southern California. Good Food Holdings also operates the Lazy Acres Natural Market, Metropolitan Market, New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets banners.
While Bristol Farms is exiting a shopping center with the Irvine store closure, some grocers, like Kowalski's Market and Publix, are embracing shopping center locations.