Natomas Business Owners Uneasy About Grocer’s No Show

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Some Natomas business owners worry about their future as plans for two Fresh & Easy stores fade.

Last week, a company spokesman confirmed there are no current plans to open the stores on Del Paso Road and Northgate Boulevard in Natomas. Storefronts at both locations have sat ready since 2008.

“There are no store openings planned at this time,” Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott wrote in an electronic message to THE NATOMAS BUZZ on Jan. 10. “The Fresh & Easy business is currently under review.”


Del Paso Marketplace businesses have waited years for the shopping center’s 15,500 square-foot anchor store Fresh & Easy to open at 2810 Del Paso Road. A second Natomas location had also been planned for a shopping center located at 3315 Northgate Boulevard.

Fastsigns co-owner Amy Koop is worried about her Del Paso Marketplace neighbors who rely on foot traffic now Fresh & Easy will likely never open.

 “It sucks,” Koop said. “I don’t want to see anybody’s business suffer, especially in our shopping center.”

Bimal Dwarka, owner of Get a Cut hair salon, said he is at the end of his rope as a business owner in the center.

“I have waited patiently for three years now and no one has come,” said Dwarka. “Without an anchor, this place is really dead. I employ a lot of people. It is very, very difficult.”

The Northgate Boulevard location still sports Fresh & Easy-branded “Coming Soon” signage and real estate listings for both sites list the grocery chain as anchor tenants. Internet searches also yield results for both of the planned stores.

Dwarka opened his hair salon in Del Paso Marketplace expecting the Fresh & Easy store to draw customers to the shopping complex.

“I just need an anchor,” he said. “I need anybody … big enough to bring in traffic.”

In November, officials from Fresh & Easy’s parent company, Tesco, announced they would sell 200 of the neighborhood markets in California, Arizona and Nevada. That announcement did not bode well for the Del Paso Marketplace merchants who currently lease their storefronts from Sacramento-based Buzz Oates Group.

Milt Payne said he will consider moving his dry cleaning operation out of the shopping center and relocate if a larger business doesn’t move in soon to the space meant for Fresh & Easy.


“We were repeatedly promised by (Oates’) agents that Fresh & Easy was going in there,” said Payne. “(Fresh & Easy) never showed up and it’s been a hardship on us. We’ve done all the advertising we could possibly do … but without an anchor store, we are hidden in a big box.”

When asked about Fresh & Easy, Buzz Oates management spokesperson Shelley Wetton said no one could “comment or speculate on this tenant’s plans at this time.” Questions about other potential tenants were not answered.

In addition to helping area businesses, many Natomas residents have said they were looking forward to an alternative to larger  supermarkets already operating in the area.

The two empty Fresh & Easy store sites appeared ready to open – shopping baskets and refrigeration units are still visible through the windows at Northgate Boulevard site.


  1. miscreantsall says

    Don’t bother going to Fresh & Easy Buzz blog. There has been no new posts since December of 2012.

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