Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen, an unusual, three-year experiment by the grocery company to combine a restaurant with a convenience store, didn’t quite pan out. The hybrid in Wayzata will close Jan. 22.
It will be succeeded by a Rustica Bakery & Cafe, which has locations in Minneapolis, Eden Prairie and the Mall of America.
“We’re not hugely visible in our Minneapolis location, but we’re well-known,” Rustica owner Greg Hoyt said. “Parking is more important than visibility for us and we’ll have plenty of parking.” The new bakery and cafe is expected to open in the spring.
For Lunds Food Holdings, whose executives hoped in 2014 the Kitchen concept was the start of something big, the idea is going into limbo.
“I wouldn’t completely close the book on the concept,” Aaron Sorenson, a Lunds spokesman, said. “It might work at another time and location.”
Sorenson said the Kitchen received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers but there weren’t enough of them to sustain it. The Kitchen was in a 17,000-square-foot space that is part of the Promenade complex, which also has residences, retailers such as Anthropologie and Twiggs Salon, and restaurants. A boutique hotel will open in it later this year.
But it was also a short distance from a full-service Lunds & Byerlys in the Colonial Square shopping center, Sorenson noted. And a number of other restaurants were nearby, including 6Smith, McCormick’s Irish Pub, Gianni’s, District Fresh Kitchen, CoV Wayzata and the new Crisp & Green. Two other high-profile restaurants, Baja Haus and Bellecour, will open in Wayzata this year.
Supermarket analyst John Dean thought the concept was ill-advised. “They have a nice store that works well just a half-mile away,” he said. “Even if it was a convenience store for people who lived on the lake, it wasn’t easily apparent. It lacked good visibility.”
Lunds Food Holdings has 26 Lunds & Byerlys locations in the Twin Cities. Dean estimates that its share of the Twin Cities’ grocery market is nearly 9 percent.