No more Nordstrom, Souplantation for you

Nordstrom at Westfield North County mall/Fox 5 screenshot

Coronavirus has killed a lot of business and commerce during the past few months. A national retail giant and locally based restaurant chain are getting out of Escondido and North County. By the same token, an Escondido shopping center and apartment complex changed hands recently as well. Here are the highlights.

No more Nordstrom for you

Want to get some high-end retail goods for whenever you’re going to be able to go somewhere nicer than your living room. You might want to steer clear of Westfield North County, otherwise known as North County Mall, Escondido’s iconic regional indoor mall.

Nordstrom RIP.

Thus ends a 34-year run as an anchor tenant of the Westfield North County shopping mall. Doors officially close for good at an unspecified time this summer. It is unclear how many workers will lose their jobs.

This is the bottom line, according to Business Insider:

  • Nordstrom is permanently closing 16 stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Texas, and Puerto Rico.
  • The closing stores will be among the company’s 116 full-line locations, the multifloor department stores that carry Nordstrom’s full assortment of products.
  • The closures are likely to inflict pain on shopping malls. “It is a blow for malls already severely bruised by the crisis and slowdown in retail,” Neil Saunders, of GlobalData Retail, said.

Nordstrom announced late on Tuesday that it planned to permanently close 16 stores.

It has 378 locations in total: 116 full-line stores, 247 discount Nordstrom Rack stores, three Jeffrey boutiques, two clearance stores, five Trunk Club clubhouses, and five Nordstrom Local service hubs.

The company is cutting only one type of store: its full-line locations, which are the multifloor department stores that carry its entire assortment of products.

The closures represent about 14 percent of Nordstrom’s full-line fleet.

As of last week, about 30 percent of the 125 restaurant and retail companies tracked by S&P Global Ratings are now showing signals of an upcoming bankruptcy or liquidation — with credit ratings that give them a 1-in-2 chance of defaulting on debts.

Nordstrom confirmed to Business Insider that the following stores are closing.

  • Chandler Fashion Center, 3199 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, Arizona
  • Arden Fair Mall, 1651 Arden Way, Sacramento, California
  • Paseo Nuevo, 17 W Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, California
  • Montclair Place, 5015 N. Montclair Plaza Ln., Montclair, California
  • Westfield North County, 270 E Via Rancho Pkwy, Escondido, California
  • 3601 The Galleria at Tyler, Riverside, California
  • Stoneridge Shopping Center, 1600 Stoneridge Mall Rd., Pleasanton, California
  • FlatIron Crossing, 21 W. Flatiron Crossing Dr, Broomfield, Colorado
  • Waterside Shops, 5489 Tamiami Trail N., Naples, Florida
  • Dadeland Mall, 7239 N. Kendall Dr., Miami, Florida
  • 1800 Annapolis Mall, Annapolis, Maryland
  • Freehold Raceway Mall, 3710 U.S. Highway 9, Freehold, New Jersey
  • Clackamas Town Center, SE 85th Ave., Happy Valley, Oregon
  • North East Mall, 1101 Melbourne Rd, Hurst, Texas
  • Short Pump Town Center, 11812 W. Broad St., Richmond, Virginia
  • 4000 The Mall of San Juan Blvd., San Juan, Puerto Rico

Analysts praised Nordstrom’s decision to trim its store fleet.

“We have long since stated that Nordstrom has too many department stores that are in sub-optimal locations,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said.

“Since those shops were originally opened, the demographics in the trade areas and the competitive mix have changed for the worse. The result is that Nordstrom has been left exposed.”

Also, Cowen analyst Oliver Chen said in a note to clients on Wednesday that closing stores “should yield more efficient inventory management, free capex for the more productive local markets, and provide more consistency in-store experience.

“Difficult decisions needed to be made sooner given the acceleration of digital trends combined with traffic losses and risks ahead,” he said.

The closures are likely to inflict pain on shopping malls and neighboring retailers. Nordstrom’s department stores serve as anchor tenants for many malls. These tenants typically generate a large portion of customer traffic and rent revenue for mall owners.

Ditto for no more Souplantation for you

Did you believe Souplantation emanated from some magical, far-away zip code, simply appearing out of nowhere at local malls and intersections.

Souplantation, the popular buffet-style dining brand founded in San Diego 42 years ago, is closing all of its restaurants permanently, a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic that is likely to be the death knell for all self-serve eateries, various news sources reported last week.

The permanent shuttering of the 97 restaurants, including 44 in California, was announced Thursday May 7 following weeks of efforts to salvage San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurants, the parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, which operates outside of Southern California. The closing will mean lost jobs for 4,400 employees.

“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” said John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it.

“We could’ve overcome any other obstacle, and we’ve worked for eight weeks to overcome these intermittent financial challenges but it doesn’t work if we are not allowed to continue our model.”

The Garden Fresh restaurants’ swift drop in revenue, as fears about the coronavirus grew in February and March, was even more precipitous than at other eateries, given the buffet concept, said Robert Allbritton, chairman of Washington, D.C.-based Perpetual Capital Partners, a private investment firm that purchased the restaurant company following a bankruptcy filing in 2016.

“We spent two years researching and trying to improve things and actually got the business turned around,” Allbritton said. “We were growing the number of guests and were in the process of renovating the restaurants with new fixtures, carpeting, signage as late as January. We felt great about it. But I’ve got to tell you, when the virus hit, we went from 100 percent to 70 to 30 to 10 percent that fast, before the restaurants closed down and the company ran out of money in one week.”

San Diego restaurant consultant John Gordon told the San Diego Union Tribune that despite Garden Fresh’s efforts at a turnaround for Souplantation, its demise was inevitable.

“Restaurant buffet operations all over the country were in deep sales decline for years prior to the Covid-19 impact in March, and the prolonged period of zero revenue since March and the possibility that US/state/local sanitation standards would prohibit buffet operations likely was responsible for the decision,” said Gordon, principal and restaurant analyst at Pacific Management Consulting Group, based in San Diego. “The restaurant world has already changed dramatically and unfortunately Garden Fresh and Souplantation do not fit into the new reality.”

Founded by bartender Dennis Jay, the first Souplantation opened in 1978 on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego, according to Sandiegoville.

The first Souplantation restaurant was opened by founder Dennis Jay in 1978 on Mission Gorge Road in San Diego. After growing to two locations with the help of friends, Jay sold the pair of buffett-style eateries to Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp in 1983. The eatery grew to over 130 locations over the years, with all those located outside of California named Sweet Tomatoes. In 2016, the company filed for bankruptcy and shuttered dozens of outposts, but 97 locations remained as of this year.

This also happened in the wonderful world of Escondido commercial real estate transactions

Escondido Town & Country/Newmark Knight Frank

No judgments, no closures, just a couple of local commercial real estate holdings changed hands amidst the coronavirus pandemic, according to San Diego Business Journal otherwise known as “The Community of Business.”

Ray Huard, former North County Times Reporter, told the tale of the tape, Escondido outdoor shopping mall edition.

JH Real Estate Partners bought the Escondido Town & Country retail center from GFC Glendale Associates, LLC for $13.3 million. Tenants include Ross Dress for Less and Big Lots.

Built in 1973 on a nearly eight-acre site, the 70,020 square-foot shopping center at 1625 to 1665 East Valley Parkway has two buildings.

Representing GFC Glendale Associates from Newmark Knight Frank were Rob Ippolito, Glenn Rudy and John Jennings, managing directors, and Vice Chairman Pete Bethea. JH Real Estate Partners represented itself.

“This property is well-located along one of the busiest thoroughfares in east Escondido,” Ippolito said. “Our team achieved market pricing over a short timeframe of 21 days in the midst of volatile capital markets.”

1440 N. Broadway/ACI Apartments

Also, an Escondido apartment complex was sold for around $9.5 million. Kenwood, LLC bought the 37,544 square-foot complex at 1440 N. Broadway from Ross Apartment Company VI. The seller was represented by Terry Moore of ACI Apartments. Representing the buyer was Jeff St. Thomas of HomeSmart Realty West.

Built in 1978, the complex has 39 apartments – 28 two-bedroom, 1 ½ bathroom apartments and 11 two-bedroom, 1 ¾ bathroom apartments.

The complex also has 18 garages, 40 carports, 33 open parking spaces and a swimming pool.


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