Photo by Patrick Maguire.
Patrick Maguire reports the Whole Foods on Beacon Street in Audubon Circle at the Brookline/Fenway line is closing this coming Wednesday. He reports a regional manager broke the news to employees this morning.
and a really small one, too. I hope another chain will take over this location.
Bread & Circus! ...no, wait
No it was a Johnnie's Fresh Market (or a fancy Johnnie's Foodmaster). I was curious to see if it was a Bread & Circus location.. but, no a Johnnies.
Back in the 80s and 90s, it was an indie operation called Beacon Market. Always seemed to hit that sad spot between over priced and scary/dirty fresh items.
Bread and Circus was on Washington near Comm Ave, before Whole Foods ate it.
Then they ate Hi-Lo in JP.
… near Symphony. Which used to be a Purity Surpreme, if I’m remembering correctly. Or it was a Star.
This is getting much too confusing.
I prefer the simpler days when I lived in Worcester and shopped at Iandoli's, which was across the street from Boston Chicken.
The Whole Paycheck near Symphony was a Stop and Shop.
In the '80s it was Beacon Super Market (separate words if I'm remembering right). I lived in a BU dorm on Buswell St. and would go over there for snacks.
Yes, I lived off of Saint Paul for several years in the early 80s and did most of my grocery shopping there. For such a small market it had a really good butcher counter.
That space was actually much better when it was a Johnny's. Hopefully it will be replaced by a more thoughtful neighborhood market with better bread and produce and more reasonably priced groceries.
WFM's business model of selling "artisanal" bread that was manufactured yesterday and has been left sitting on the shelves for a couple of days just doesn't work - it may look nice, but it ends up tasting like cardboard.
Their commitment to produce "from here" consists primarily of strawberries from Connecticut that cost $7.99/quart.
And their dairy and cheese departments, as well as most of the grocery section, consist of commodities that are about 30-50% more expensive than the identical products at Trader Joe's (e.g. the very same gallons of organic milk from plant 50-13 in Barre, VT, that are more than $2 more expensive at WFM).
You won't be missed
Whole Foods is also the only supermarket you be ever seen with a legal notice on the door saying you agree to their terms and conditions by walking in. Conveniently not posted there, only on a website.
On the other hand, it’s better than nothing. If no grocery store replaces it, it’s still a loss.
Losing both a Dunkin' and a Whole Foods within a few months seems odd, especially since both of them seemed to have survived the worst of the shut-down era. Is there a super-greedy landlord gouging them, or a new-found revolt against big chains? Sad to see the losses, but hope they get replaced by something better, not just empty storefronts.
Is the neighborhood residential population trending to more "student" (or at least skewing "younger") than previously? Or maybe just a sign of economy being tight? Whole Foods can be a little pricey.
Is the neighborhood residential population trending to more "student" (or at least skewing "younger") than previously?
I'm going to guess not. It's also quite close to the Longwood Medical Area, and Longwood employees were renting a lot in the West Fens when I lived there. Also, tbh, a lot of students at Boston area colleges aren't exactly poor -- so the ones who are renting those apartments can also afford to shop at Whole Foods.
just a guess but either
- with the new construction in the area, the rents are rising
- too small a footprint for the current WF layout (they have standard layouts, this is so small)
- maybe a bright shiny new one is opening in one of the new apt/condo buildings in the area?
It's the right kind of supermarket for the developers doing the new construction - they'd want WF, Traders, or Roche Bros in the area for their intended clientele. It was definitely a boutique version of WF - big enough to become a Trader Joes?
The whole back half of Economy Hardware, that used to have actual hand tools and things you'd really want a hardware store for, is empty. It wouldn't surprise me if it closed sometime before this fall.
There is a developer with signage that has an artists rendition of a restaurant block taking over the Dunks and Hardware store strip, so I'm guessing you're right
And there is another bar there that seems to always crash, burn, and rebuild.
Although that isn't Allston by any stretch of the imagination, The past 10 years has seen a large influx of Asian businesses in the area. Mostly Harvard Ave (and one one of Boston's best kept secrets, the Super 88 Market complex) but I wonder if BU building more housing is having the opposite impact on the area? Is BU providing more services on campus that they didn't in years past?
I don't think WF closing is because of the neighborhood...
I think Amazon/Whole Foods is doing a round of store closings.. a few tweets on twitter from ppl in other cities said locations there are closing too.
As in, 1/3 the size of a normal Whole Foods. I think Amazon just does not want to deal with nonstandard, tiny stores.
That was a huge loss.
A developer bought the building(s) that include Economy Hardware, former O’Leary’s, former Dunkin’, and former Sichuan Gourmet. I heard they paid $15M but no confirmation on that number. The goal is first floor retail + housing above (as expected). Oleary’s already has a posterboard up showing off what materials they will use to build it.
My guess is the prior landlord (or new landlord?) “assisted” those companies with deciding to close.
The Whole Foods is separate from this — I hear the place has “another developer” and plans to put something in there. No idea what.
Japonaise bakery has been closed for renovation since May 2021. The owner said in Dec 2021 they should reopen “in a few months.” I have my fingers crossed for them; I don’t know if they own that building but I assume so otherwise the rent would have decimated them.
If the bakery closes, I will be very sad.
My husband used to live in Park Drive and we would go to that Whole Foods and the crepe place (that is gone gone gone.)
The Whole Foods is closing. Why would you think there’s a chance the bakery in the Whole Foods will remain open if the entire store is closing?
She might mean the Japonaise Bakery that’s a door or so down in that same area.
I suspect she's talking about Japonaise Bakery, in reference to the discussion of all the other nearby businesses that have closed, not the Whole Foods bakery department.
Japanese bakery closed for renovations, didn’t have enough money and didn’t plan well and has started a go fund me, It is questionable if they will reopen anytime soon.
Also you can get a reasonable selection of Japanese sweets at Maruichi in Coolidge corner so they aren’t the niche place as much as they once were in tge 90s.
Also to the loud mouth whiny baby - oh I liked Johnnys better boo boo why did WF take over the HiLo in JP - shut your cake hole. Oh boo boo the scary Whole Foods, corporate blah - what a bunch of crap.
The area isn’t dying, if anything more expensive now. O’Lesrys was crappy 20 years ago and never got better.
Yes the Japonaise bakery. Sorry
During my college years in the 1990s, when I came home for the weekend or when I was on break, I would go to Chef Chang's for lunch, which cost me around $5 before tips. Afterwards, I would go to the Japonaise bakery for a red bean paste donut. They were delicious - a step above Dunkin Donut's jelly donuts.
And that spot is now vacant. It's very sad as I've going to Chef Chang's / Sichuan Gourmet for the past 20 years and it was always a good spot for a quick, tasty, inexpensive lunch.
The Japonaise bakery is fine but they once made a mistake on my order (added something I didn't ask for) and wanted me to pay the difference. That's a hard stop for me.
Thanks - I've corrected my post and removed the Sichuan Gourmet reference. It must not have been as successful as Chef Chang's.
Sorry to be bearer of bad news but Japonaise bakery has been closed for renovations since June 2021.
Given how small this grocery store is. This article quotes it as being 8000 sf which was when it was written the smallest Whole Paycheck in the country. But it actually looks like it's only about 6000 feet on Google Maps, which is barely larger than the Back Bay Trader Joe's, which is the smallest in the country.
It's significantly smaller than even other small Whole Foods in the area (mostly former Bread and Circuses):
Prospect Street, Cambridge: ~11,000 sf
JP (former Hi Lo): ~14,000 sf
Inman: ~14,000 sf
Church Park/Brighton/etc: ~20,000 sf
10,000 sf for a grocery store seems to be about the minimum for a reasonably full-service grocery, and even that is very small. This would be great, though, as maybe a larger-scale Johnny D's or a Russo's 2.0 or something where you can pick up fresh vegetables but not expect everything you might get at a Whole Paycheck.
Anyway, Prospect is super-small and it's somewhere between 50% and 100% bigger than this storefront. So I totally get why Whole Foods doesn't want to run this anymore. I just wish that there was some mechanism to take a property like this and keep the storefronts at the ground level while putting four or five stories of housing above.
Just my own observations in that there are plenty of one story buildings being torn down for 1st level retail and multi story "housing" (I would think a developer wouldn't mind spending $20 million to build $50 million in condos here.)
I wouldn't have thought the Inman WF would be the same size as Prospect. I'd think it would be SMALLER. I never went to the Inman WF, but I did when it was a Johnnie's. And it literally was 3 very long aisles. Of course it has a parking lot bigger than the g-d store.
For comparison.. the Davis Sq b.fresh is 14k sqft
We used to call the prospect street whole foods…. Half Foods
.. and I used to live across the street, I did pretty much all my grocery shopping there. I was amazed at how much they could pack into that little space.
….wasn’t much larger than the one in Brookline,
There is a Whole Foods in South Weymouth Columbian Square that used to be a Johnny's Food master that is small but still a good little size.
Obviously the Fenway Star Market was there long before Whole Foods. However, they have made that Star pretty nice in recent years. I'm not surprised that people in that area would choose not to go to a tiny and pricey Whole Foods when a nice, full-service market is just over the hill.
Serves the neighborhood pretty well, and there is lots of free parking for those who need it. But I'm looking forward to the brand new Star at 401 Park Drive, scheduled to replace the Boylston Street store sometime next year, I believe.
…. with that location not being compatible with Instacart and other shopping services.
Limited selection, or something else?
… packed with personal shoppers. They even have an area just for them. It sometimes feels like you are in an Amazon warehouse. It never had a good feel before. Now it’s even more unpleasant.
is for the birds.
on Beacon for more than fifteen years. Before that, twenty-five years a couple of blocks away on the Riverway, when I regularly used the St. Mary's C line stop to get home from work downtown, basically to go to the supermarket on Beacon, Wine Press, and, back in the day, the pizza/sub shop run by the Turkish family on the corner of St. Mary's (now Gyu-Kaku) on the way home.
When I first moved into the neighborhood in 1980, this location was (and, I think, had long been) an independent grocery store operating under the name of Beacon Super Market (I agree with the previous comment that those were separate words). Back then, it was known, despite the small size, for an excellent in-store butcher and a tremendous collection of coffee. It went downhill a bit its last couple of years.
Then came what someone I know refers to as the "kale" store. I never set foot in that place.
Then Johnny's, which was pretty good. Though we always thought the produce was pretty bad, i.e., it was rotting by the time you walked out the front door.
Then what was reputedly the smallest Whole Foods in the country. Better produce. A mostly pathetic meat department. Ridiculous prices. Some other issues. But, hey, it was on the next block!
So, unless and until, I'll need to work up the vast energy needed to go over to the Star Market on Boylston. Which, for a long time, was ghastly, but I think it's gotten a lot better in recent years. Or the Target on Boylston, which seems to have a pretty good grocery section (and when is Tiffani's new restaurant across the street going to appear? A bartender at Sweet Cheeks wasn't sure but thought it's going to be some sort of seafood place).
And, no, the neighborhood is not trending "to more 'student.'" That trend happened decades ago. The neighborhood (and nearby West Fens) is instead trending to super-expensive rental properties. A big difference from when I (who used to ride the el on the South Side of Chicago in the middle of the night) was not comfortable walking home to the Riverway from Kenmore Square late at night on Brookline Avenue and would instead circle around on Beacon Street.
And, yes, I'm guessing the rents are an issue. Have heard that specifically with respect to Sichuan Gourmet closing.
>>And there is another bar there that seems to always crash, burn, and rebuild.
I can't believe I'm forgetting the name, but I'm guessing that you're referring to the "cursed" location (Phnom Penh?) where the Cambodian place used to be back in the 80s. Where the busboy was allegedly murdered in the alley in a drug deal gone bad. Leading to a curse on the location where Bar 'cino is now located (I'm leaving out the fire at Brown's Steakhouse, which was mostly a bit before my time). Bar 'cino seems to have dispelled the curse and maybe shifted it to the Whole Foods located next door.
P.S. I love me some Taberna de Haro (and even Bar 'cino), but the loss of O'Leary's was the biggest setback to the neighborhood in the whole time I've been living here. Angus is back at the Shamrock on the corner of Eighth and H in Southie (and was *so happy* when we were there on opening night back in January). Would love to go there more often, but it's really hard to get there, especially when it's *NOT* on the next block.
Just wanted to say thanks for the history. I’m close enough to the WF that I feel the same — fingers crossed it continues the history to become another grocery store and not something else. And I too will be schlepping over to the Star Market!
Neighboring establishments have closed down due to leases not being renewed. There will be new development. Closures:
- Dunkin :(
- Sichuan Gourmet: There’s a poster of proposed redevelopment as a “restauraant row”
- Looks like Economy Hardware is packing up too :(
- Whole Foods gone
- Japonaise is supposed to be renovating, but it appears to have been stalled for months.
- Gyu Kaku
- Wine Press
- Brookline bank?
- Everything else west of Whole Foods.
I liked having WF (and their Amazon drop off). They always seemed to get good business (esp during Red Sox season) so this is somewhat surprising. However with its small size I can see its hard to scale its profitability (I wish they had expanded into the adjacent property when it was empty, now Bar Cino).
Would love for it to become a Trader Joes (unlikely with Coolidge Corner and Cambridge close by).
Or, a true Hail Mary, I would love to see Whole Foods move to the empty retail spaces underneath the Bower (new condo complex adjacent to Mass Turnpike on Beacon).
Whole Foods moving out.
Foodmaster isn't coming back.
Bread & Circu$ isn't moving in.
Trader Joe's ain't moving in.
Borders and Barnes & Noble aren't moving in.
The all-too-ubiquitous CVS or Walgreens,
life science space.
why not a bank?
According to today's Glob, WF is closing 6 stores altogether in in Massachusetts, Alabama, California, and Illinois.
Help keep Universal Hub going. If you like what we're up to and want to help out, please consider a (completely non-deductible) contribution.
Copyright 2022 by Adam Gaffin and by content posters.Advertise | About Universal Hub | Contact | Privacy