It's the last hurrah for two Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market stores in the Bay Area that didn't survive the grocery chain's sale this month to a Southern California billionaire.
The Fresh & Easy at Saratoga and Payne avenues in West San Jose will close up shop as early as Thursday afternoon. One employee said Wednesday afternoon that the store's shelves were almost empty.
Friday is the last day for Fresh & Easy in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood at Third Street and Carroll Avenue, according to a store employee. Since last week, the stores have been selling everything at half-off the original price as the company tries to quickly unload the remaining products.
Both stores were casualties of the grocery chain's sale to Yucaipa, a Los Angeles-based investment group headed by billionaire Ronald Burkle. Yucaipa bought about 150 of the 200 Fresh & Easy locations from British supermarket conglomerate Tesco. The sale left about 50 stores in the three states where Fresh & Easy operates -- California, Arizona and Nevada -- ownerless.
Five stores in the Sacramento area and locations in Fresno and Modesto will also close under the deal. Most stores not bought by Yucaipa will close by Friday.
The Bay Area will still get to keep 17 Fresh & Easy stores, which stretch north to Napa and east to Brentwood. Also, two stores will remain open in both San Jose and San Francisco.
Store managers and employees learned that they'd lost their jobs through conference calls with corporate leaders last week after news of the sale was made public. Approximately 400 employees were laid off, said Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott. He said all full- and part-time employees are eligible for four weeks' pay for every year of employment, six months of health coverage and other unemployment services.
Tesco said last week it had agreed to pay out about $190 million to exit the U.S., marking the company's latest failed international venture after it paid a huge sum to leave Japan last year. The company has never made a profit from Fresh & Easy since bringing the neighborhood-style grocery chain to the U.S. in 2007.
Fresh & Easy had set up, but not opened, new stores in Southern California before the sale. Wonnacott said Yucaipa had acquired these locations as well.
Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.