Fifty-nine workers affected at FL grocery store
The last day of business for Forest Lake’s Rainbow Foods will be Jan. 9. The impending closure of the grocery store at 289 SW 12th St. and the loss of 59 local jobs was announced last week by Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc.
Though the announcement comes less than three years after the closing of Marketplace Foods on Lake Street, the Rainbow decision was attributed to slow sales.
Vivian King, director of public affairs, said the company has found it challenging to control costs as the tough economy continues to impact families’ budgets.
The first wave of layoffs will come on that Wednesday, Jan. 9, while the final date of all employment in Forest Lake will be Saturday, Jan. 12. The company is actively working with employees to place them in the many Rainbow stores in the St. Paul market.
“The decision to close our Forest Lake Rainbow was a very difficult one and one we did not take lightly, as we knew it would impact more than 50 employees in addition to our loyal shoppers in the Forest Lake community,” King said.
The grocery store opened as Festival Foods in 1988. A $3 million expansion in 1996 brought the square footage from 34,000 to nearly 50,000. It was at that same time that its name switched to Rainbow Foods.
Milwaukee-based Roundy’s purchased the store in 2003 after Texas-based Fleming Cos. filed for Chapter 11 protection.
Forest Lake Mayor Chris Johnson learned of the news via a notice dated Nov. 1 that was sent to him as required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.
The letter, signed by chief human resource officer Jessie Terry, stated the company expects the shutdown to be permanent.
“This is not a happy decision for us,” Terry wrote. “We are grateful to all of our employees for their many contributions to the business.”
Johnson hopes the void in the Westlake Plaza will not remain for long.
“We’re disappointed to see a long-standing and valued business in the community leave,” he stated. “With that said, hopefully as one door closes another will open and something new will come into that space and provide replacement for the jobs being lost.”
Westlake Plaza has been owned since 2003 by Investors Real Estate Trust (IRET), of Minot, N.D. IRET knew for some time that Rainbow was considering closing, as the grocer’s departure comes at the end of its lease, said asset manager Dick Kvanbeck.
IRET has received interest in the location but is not ready to make any announcements, Kvanbeck noted.
“Things change and you have to adapt and move forward,” he said. “Our goal is to obviously bring in a quality tenant or tenants that will continue to bring traffic to the center.”
Bloom Commercial Real Estate is IRET’s leasing broker.