Former F & E’s need some R & D

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Most Fresh & Easy stores remain open after their September 2013 sale, but a handful closed, and some had closed last year as the chain struggled. Upland is home to one shuttered location, and Ontario to two.

The closed one in Upland — at Foothill and San Antonio, seen above — won’t come back as a grocery because a Sprouts market is going in next door into a former Office Max. (Upland also has an operating Fresh & Easy on Mountain and Eighth.)

The real-estate market has by and large turned empty Mervyns into Kohls, and Circuit Citys, Price Clubs and theaters into churches and gyms. It’s still trying to repurpose Borders stores (the one in Montclair now sells furniture) and closed Best Buys, like ones in Ontario and Chino Hills.

What to do with these empty 10,000-square-foot Fresh & Easy markets?

Suggesting I write about this, a friend came up with a list of potential uses that, coincidentally I’m sure, mirror my interests: “Used book stores, comic book shops, frozen custard joints, art house cinemas, pie shops, a lunch spot where all waitresses wear glasses, bowling alleys…” Be still my heart!

Any further ideas, fanciful or not, for these vacant spaces?

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  • Randall V

    I really liked the idea of a used book store(s). I, too, like you David, love to read books the old fashioned way. Perhaps I am old fashioned, too, however, I just can’t see reading a book on an eReader that needs (constant) charging. OK, so a book costs 1/3 the price to download rather than just buy, is one of its advatages; but a regular book never needs charging, never needs updating, no cords, no wi-fi, no nothing between you and your adventure.

    • Jimbo97367

      Not to mention it can be loaned or given to whomever the owner wishes.

  • Wendy Leung

    A bookstore specializing in rare and out-of-print cookbooks, a camera store featuring vintage cameras and Polaroid supplies, a bar featuring hot cocktails like hot toddies and Irish coffees, a Chinese restaurant serving Sichuan cuisine but specifically from Chengdu, a woman’s clothing store specializing in petite wear for ladies shorter than 5’3, a library, a bowling alley where you can smoke inside, a 24-hour Juanitas, a French bakery, and the offices of a nonprofit providing services for out-of-work or underpaid journalists.

    • davidallen909

      We all have our fantasies. Thanks for sharing yours. To yours of a library, I would specify a 24-hour library. Wouldn’t that be something — a library where you didn’t have to check the days and hours, because it would always be open.

      • Lois Robbins

        Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

      • Randall V

        That would be fantastic as nothing in Upland is open 24-hours. Maybe this could be the first!

  • Pam Arterburn

    Idea #1: In the Yard House spirit of “you can never have enough variations of the same thing,” how about a “Billions and Billions of Clips of Carl Sagan” space-themed snack shop? Sagan would be pontificating in 80′s garb on 100 strategically located monitors while waitresses dressed in 1960s Star Trek outfits would circulate and offer cute snacks like “Tribble Stack Chocolate Cake” or “Flying Saucer of Sausages”? Idea #2: Maybe we could combine all of your fantasies, David, and the new name could be “B B’ and B,” which stands for Books, Bowling and Bunches of Other Stuff,” and the remaining attractions could be rotated to keep the crowds roaring through the door: Mondays are Frozen Custard Bonzai Night; Tuesday we have Brilliant Art House Cinema in the Dining Room; Wednesday is the Big Smorgasbord of Pies, and of course all waitresses will wear glasses at all times with the threat of immediate termination for whipping them off.

    • davidallen909

      Two ideas? They seem like dozens!

      Your Sagan concept is out of this world, ha ha. It would lose billions and billions of dollars! But it does sound like fun. More Star Trek snacks: Klingon Kustard, Romulan Fried Ravioli.

      And I would rather spend my time at your BB&B than at Bed Bath & Beyond.

  • Bob House

    A version of LA’s iconic Farmer’s Market or, for those familiar, the Reading Market in Philadelphia. Good business sense – lower rent for individual vendors; more lesees means lower risk for investor/overall owner.

    • davidallen909

      Or Faneuil Market in Boston, or Soulard Market in St. Louis, or… I like the idea!

  • Christina Benfield

    Dunkin Donuts…there isnt one close by

  • Tina Arreola

    Low Carb grocery store, with ready to eat meals

  • Bob Terry

    A coffee shop where you can get the exact opposite of what you ordered…a soup kitchen where the bread is free and you don’t have to wear a ribbon…a yogurt and muffin top store where everything is non-fat…a pizzeria/calzone store/laundrymat…and a bakery with marble rye, chocolate babka and a Pakistani restaurant.

    • davidallen909

      What about a diner with a Big Salad? Or a snack shop where you can get a Snickers on a plate or Junior Mints?

  • Bob Terry

    I will end it with just three words…House of Mutton!