Hart’s Local Grocers, which opened with a lot of enthusiasm for another supermarket in downtown Rochester just over four-and-a-half years ago, is closing.
Glenn Kellogg, the president of Hart’s, said they will close the doors of that Winthrop Street market on March 24.
He said they opened with “great optimism” in the summer of 2014, and new development in the area held out hope for success.
Kellogg said they made changes last year to streamline operations and had their most profitable year yet. But he said declining sales left them unable to make ends meet.
Kellogg said Hart’s has also searched for a new owner-operator, but has not come up with anyone.
Hart’s plans a closeout sale the week of March 18.
Officials with local business organizations including Heidi Zimmer Meyer of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation credit the people behind Hart’s with being creative in trying to offer a unique grocery store experience.
Rochester Downtown Development Corporation President Heidi Zimmer-Meyer says it’s disappointing news, and she wishes that Hart’s could have hung on for another year or so after some nearby development got completed.
“The whole Inner Loop fill-in has now shaken loose; four development projects and a fifth one that’s coming to fruition as well, and they would have put a lot of people within a few blocks of that site," Zimmer-Meyer told WXXI News.
The President and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Bob Duffy, also is hopeful another business will eventually move into the space occupied by Hart's.
“All those apartments and condos, you have a world class restaurant coming into the old 2Vine right next door, I think somebody will go in, hopefully go in with the thought of a grocery store, try and fill that void, so it saves people driving places, they can walk over and get what they need," Duffy said.
Agathi Graham operates The Arbor Loft, which provides event space on the floor above Hart's.
She was saddened to learn that business will be closing.
"We’re big lunch-goers, so we’re always eating down there and hanging out with everybody, but we didn’t expect it ... it’s unfortunate. I guess in the grand scheme of things, was it a surprise? They’re competing against Wegmans, of course not, but you’re rooting for them because they’re such wonderful people," Graham said.
Graham says The Arbor Loft will continue to operate in that space above the Hart's location as well as at their other location, Arbor at the Port.
Justin Roj, a spokesman for the City of Rochester released this statement:
“The City worked with Hart’s and our government partners to bring the grocer to our community, and we are disappointed to hear of its closing. As a result of the Inner Loop East project, numerous developments are blossoming in the East End, including Charlotte Square, the expanded Strong Museum, and the new Redd Rochester restaurant, we remain excited about the future of downtown and the ongoing investment throughout our community.”