As the sign on the window of the future Fresh & Easy store at 5800 Third Street in San Francisco pictured above says, as of today Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market hasn't received approval to sell alcoholic beverages at the store. The application is a premise-to-premise transfer (purchase of a liquor license by Fresh & Easy) from one party to another. Usually these types of applications get faster approval then those for a new license application do.
Tesco's Fresh & Easy in Northern California - 2011
Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's announcement about when it plans to open its store at 5800 Third Street (at Carrolm Avenue) in San Francisco is being held up as the Tesco-owned grocery chain waits for approval from the California Alcohol-Beverage Control (ABC) agency for its application to sell hard liquor at the store, which is located in the new "5800 Third Street" condominium development in the city's Bayview Neighborhood, Fresh & Easy Buzz has learned.
Additionally, since its liquor license for the store has not yet been approved, Tesco's Fresh & Easy is holding off on doing the finishing work, painting and installing refrigeration cases, shelving and checkout stands inside the about 12,000 square-foot store, until that approval comes from the ABC. (Pictured below is the inside of the 5800 Third Street store as of today.)
The exterior of the store (pictured here) has been completed for about three months.
We've reported extensively on the back-and-forth decision-making process at Tesco's Fresh & Easy regarding when it would open the 5800 Third Street store in San Francisco's Bayview District.
The location is a key one for the grocer. For example, it held a major press event at the site in early 2008 to announce its then plans to enter Northern California in 2009.
Additionally, as we've previously noted, in our analysis it has the potential to be one of Fresh & Easy's better performing stores. [See -February 1, 2011: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Still Plans April-May 2011 Openings For First Two San Francisco Stores, and December 14, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market to Open 5800 Third Street 'Flagship' Store in San Francisco Later in 2011 Than Originally Announced .]
Tesco's Fresh & Easy also owns the store building in the 5800 Third Street development. The grocer announced its plans to open a store in the development in January 2008.
5800 Third Street timeline
Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market first announced in a press release on August 19 that it planned to launch into Northern California in early 2011, saying it would open its first eight stores in the region then. Included in the announcement was the store at 5800 Third Street in San Francisco.
The first eight stores listed in the August 19, 2011 press release were:
>San Francisco: Third Steet & Carroll Avenue
>San Jose: Bird Avenue & Minnesota Avenue
>Danville: Diablo Boulevard & Highway 680
>Pacifica: Cabrillo Highway & Linda Mar Boulevard
>Vacaville: Elmira Road & Nut Tree Road
>Modesto: Oakdale Road & Lancey Drive
>Walnut Creek: Ygnacio Valley Road & San Carlos Drive
>Concord: Clayton Road & Ygnacio Valley Road
[Read our story about the announcement - August 19, 2010: Tesco Will Open its First Eight Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Stores in Northern California in 'Early 2011.']
But on November 10, 2010 Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market issued a second press release in which it said it would open 12 rather than eight stores in Northern California in early 2011. However, the store at 5800 Third Street in San Francisco was no longer on the list. [See - November 12, 2010: Postponed But Not Abandoned: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Gearing Up For Northern California Launch.] The San Francisco store at 32nd & Clement was added to the list in its place though.
Still later on, Fresh & Easy amended its Northern California opening plans, announcing on January 12, 2011 it would open 11 stores in Northern California in early 2011. [See - January 12, 2011: First Northern California Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Stores Opening March 2; Nine More to Follow March-April. Also see - December 14, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market to Open 5800 Third Street 'Flagship' Store in San Francisco Later in 2011 Than Originally Announced.]
Not only was the 5800 Third Street store still off the list, but the unit at 32nd & Clement in San Francisco was also removed this time around. [See this story for additional background: February 1, 2011: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Still Plans April-May 2011 Openings For First Two San Francisco Stores.] Click here to see the locations of the 11 stores, three of which - Willow Glen/San Jose, Danville and Pacifica - have opened so far.
In its January 12, 2011 press release, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market said it would be announcing the opening dates for the two San Francisco stores at 5800 Third Street and 32nd & Clement in "the coming weeks."
It's now been about eight weeks since January 12 and no announcement has come yet from Tesco's Fresh & Easy about the San Francisco store opening dates.
The future Fresh & Easy store at 32nd & Clement is on track to be completed soon. The exterior is finished and the inside is progressing well.
But because it's waiting to get approval from the California ABC on its liquor license, work inside the 5800 Third Street store in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood is on hold. As you can see in the photo below, the building's interior awaits finishing work, painting, the installation of equipment, shelving, checkout stands and other detailing. A full-crew can have the inside of the store ready to go in a couple weeks though, as installing the Fresh & Easy interior package is much less time-consuming than is the case with larger supermarkets.
The California ABC is currently accepting comments from residents of the neighborhood regarding Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's application to sell hard liquor as well as beer and wine at the 5800 Third Street store.
The Bayview is a low-income neighborhood and historically numerous residents and neighborhood groups, along with some city officials, have opposed allowing any new stores or existing stores not already selling hard liquor, and even in some cases beer and wine, to do so.
At present it appears Fresh & Easy will get approval to sell hard liquor at the store. The reason is because the area is a "food desert" and the residents of the neighborhood we've talked to say having the store open, even if it offers hard liquor for sale, trumps not having a store in the location, since the neighborhood is underserved by grocery stores that offer fresh foods and groceries for reasonable prices.
Some of the Fresh & Easy stores in California, Arizona and Nevada sell hard liquor along with beer and wine. But the majority of the grocer's 167 markets sell beer and wine only.
Based on our current reporting, we expect that the 5800 Third Street Fresh & Easy store will open in May, or June at the latest, unless there's some last minute problem with the approval of the liquor license application. And even if there is the store can always open offering beer and wine only, which requires just a permit and not a license in California.
Click on these links - Fresh and Easy Northern California, Fresh and Easy San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California Market Region, Tesco's Fresh and Easy in Norcal 2011, Northern California Special Report, Northern California, 5800 Third Street - for complete coverage of and analysis on Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in Northern California.