The Ralphs grocery store located at Long Beach Boulevard and San Antonio Drive in Bixby Knolls will shut its doors permanently at 6pm this Saturday, June 15, according to signs placed at the entrance of the store.
The major supermarket chain, which is a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Kroger, plans to put the 52,000-square-foot property on the market after being a familiar spot for many nearby residents to buy groceries for about 12 years. A real-estate listing shows the building was built in 2000, and the entire property is valued at $9.1 million.
So far, no information has been provided as to any potential buyers. It also remains unclear exactly why the grocery-store chain decided to close the store.
But, for many residents who live in Bixby Knolls, California Heights and other north Long Beach neighborhoods, the Ralphs location was one of the largest and most convenient grocery stores in the local area.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the parking lot was packed with cars, and customers were taking advantage of the store’s liquidation sale of 25 percent off or more on all items.
Now, many residents will have to shop elsewhere.
Other major supermarkets in or closest to north Long Beach include the Albertsons in the Wrigley Marketplace at 185 E. Willow St., Vons at 4550 Atlantic Ave. at the Bixby Knolls Shopping Center and Trader Joe’s at 4121 Atlantic Ave.
Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin, who said he frequents the Ralphs since he lives in the area, mentioned during a community-assembly meeting in May that he spoke with Ralphs representatives about the closure after he received a flood of calls and emails from concerned nearby residents.
He siad the closure is “a very big disappointment to myself as a shopper at Ralphs and as a resident of the neighborhood there.”
Representatives did not release any plans but did say the site would be sold and would not be converted into a Food 4 Less store, which Austin said had also been a concern for some nearby residents. Ralphs representatives said they are committed to maintaining the site and keeping up the property until a new owner takes possession, he said.
“I met with representatives of Ralphs and expressed our strong interest in finding a new use that is the best fit for the community there,” Austin said. “They weren’t giving out a whole lot of information, but I don’t think they necessarily want to show their hand too much.”
Austin added that several investors and developers have already taken an interest in the property, and the site, which is zoned for commercial use, could easily be converted without requiring city permits. He said Ralphs representatives were open to holding meetings with local neighborhood associations about the property.
The councilmember added that he didn’t want to see the site lay vacant for too long. “That’s something we’re going to be watching very closely in the weeks and months to come, hopefully,” Austin said.
The Bixby Knolls Ralphs is the latest grocery store to close in recent months. Albertsons vacated the spot at 644 N. Redondo Ave. in Long Beach last year in addition to other locations across the country during a business restructure. Top Value Market, a smaller regional grocery chain took over the location but ended up closing last month. ß