Balducci's Shutting D.C. Store

Gourmet grocer Balducci's is planning to shut down its only store in the District at the end of June in another blow for the embattled chain.

The store on New Mexico Avenue near American University is one of four locations -- the others are in Ridgefield, Conn., and New York City -- slated to close under a company reorganization. Balducci's spokeswoman Jennifer Barton said the stores in Bethesda, McLean and Alexandria will remain open, along with Greenwich and Westport, Conn., and Scarsdale, N.Y.

Barton declined to comment on the reason for the closures or the fate of the stores' employees. But the Balducci's chain has struggled to stabilize management and costs for much of this decade. Now recession-minded consumers are scaling back on luxuries such as fine cheeses and olive oils, hurting sales at even the largest players such as Whole Foods.

"They have a model which is pricey, and right now the economy is not tailored toward pricey," said Jeffrey S. Metzger, publisher of trade magazine Food World. "It's a difficult place to shop in terms of your weekly needs."

-Ylan Q. Mui

By Terri Rupar  |  April 10, 2009; 3:03 PM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch
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I am not surprised. I feel for the employees, but this business model is not sustainable. I shopped here occasionally in a pinch but $6 flour and $5 yogurt is ridicoulous. I thought the customer service at this store was pretty bad too, the women at the coffee bar always had attitude.

Posted by: yovovi | April 10, 2009 6:18 PM

There are Balducci's in Maryland (Bethesda) and in Virginia (Alexandria, McLean), as well. I drove by the Bethesda one today.

Posted by: BurgundyNGold | April 10, 2009 8:20 PM

Yeah, seems like it was too big to be a convenience store and too small to be a real grocery store. Costs too high for food .. . .sorry to see it go though.

Posted by: ah___ | April 10, 2009 8:48 PM

I live in the neighborhood and am so disappointed to hear this. It is expensive, but when you need something in a pinch it's been such a lifesaver; i am so sad to see it go. I disagree with the post about bad customer service. I find the employees always willing to help. One of the things I love about this small shopping complex is that you have much of what you need right there- drug store, food, abc, laundry, chef geoff's, children's store, lovely gifts, starbucks --- it will be a great loss when Balducci's closes. Very sorry this is happening. I wonder what will go there. A grocery store is needed.

Posted by: jld2 | April 10, 2009 11:27 PM

This is really too bad. I live in the neighborhood and the grocery store is very convenient. I hope another one takes its place. That said, I understand why it is not surviving. The prices are high and it is often not very crowded, as the article mentions. I think the staff can be unfriendly at times, but I think that stems partially from the fact that the customers can also be very unfriendly and snobbish.

Posted by: homer44 | April 11, 2009 5:18 PM

I am very sad to see this store go, small but perfect for real food. The catering and bistro meals are so healthy and good. I'll miss Balducci's in DC. I have shopped there for produce, meat, fish and catered goods. For staples I would go to a regular grocery store. I think its hard not to have a storefront -- you really have to know its there to find it. And I am sure it has not helped them that the parking there is so costly and they have to pay the fee. Its a loss to the neighborhood and the shopping center. Its a really great small food store of high quality.

Posted by: pinguino | April 13, 2009 12:06 AM

I completely agree with the comments above about the poor quality of the customer service at Balducci's. I live nearby and used the visit the store most days for a coffee or a bite to eat, but I found the attitude of the staff was surly and inattentive, despite my best attempts to be friendly, so have stopped going so regularly in recent months. I suspect that poor staff training and low wages are to blame, but for the prices one pays in Balducci's, one expects a much higher level of customer service.

Posted by: LouLou3 | April 13, 2009 9:31 AM

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