While Fresh & Easy assures customers there's no plans to close existing stores, uncertainty surrounds future locations, such as the one slated to open at the former Magnolia Audio Video in Santa Monica's Mid-City neighborhood.
"Since we’re still in strategic review we do not have opening dates for future stores at this time," said Fresh & Easy spokesman Brendan Wonnacott.
The store's parent company, Britain-based Tesco, is "conducting a strategic review" of its 199 Fresh & Easy stores, which have failed to break into the American market, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Fresh & Easy entered the U.S. by opening shops in California, Arizona and Nevada right as the recession hit and in communities hit particularly hard by the subprime mortgage crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported in December.
Though it attracted a small group of loyalists, Fresh & Easy largely failed to capture the imagination of American consumers who proved unaccustomed to British-style ready meals, self-service cash registers and unfamiliar store layouts.
In a mass email addressing that report and those that followed, Fresh & Easy management said, Tesco is looking "at all options to find the best outcome for the neighborhood market that you—and we—have come to love."
"While we don't know exactly what that outcome will be, or if Tesco will continue to own the company, we're confident that Fresh & Easy can continue to be your favorite market," the email read.
Plans to introduce Fresh & Easy to Santa Monica were met with mixed reactions. Some residents in the Mid-City neighborhood said they looked forward to having a market within walking distance; others worry about the increased traffic it could bring.
— Patch editor Saul Daniels contributed to this report.