Foxtrot, Dom's Kitchen & Market to close all stores

Five months after Foxtrot and Dom's Kitchen & Market After the merger, the new company appears to be headed toward bankruptcy and will close all of its stores in Illinois, Texas, and the D.C. area on Tuesday, April 23.

Corporate workers were informed Tuesday morning via conference call with management that the stores would close by noon. Store workers were left in the dark and were instructed not to speak to customers about the matter. Their feelings ranged from frustration to fear of losing their jobs. Dome locations in Lincoln Park and Old Town were closed Tuesday morning, with one account claiming that employees had to evict shoppers in Lincoln Park to close the store.

Outfox Hospitality, the joint venture between the two Chicago-based entities, is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to Outfox Hospitality. Substack Snaxshot Newsletter. A meeting was called for Tuesday evening, according to what Eater confirmed, to discuss the company's future with the workers. Outfox has not yet returned a formal request for comment, though employees are scrambling after the Snaxshot scoop on Monday afternoon. No deposits appeared in court records, as of Tuesday morning. About 1,000 Outfox employees work across several states, with about 100 full-time workers in Chicago. No notices were given In Illinois'or Texas WARN Report Pages, which tracks notices of mass dismissals. In Illinois, this includes companies with 75 full-time workers; They are legally required to provide layoff notices with a 60-day warning. Warning still applies If the company files for bankruptcy.

The company published an advertisement About 11:30 a.m. Central time. Here is part of the statement. There was no mention of bankruptcy:

This decision was not made lightly, and we understand the impact it will have on you and our loyal customers, as well as our dedicated team members. We want to express our sincere gratitude for your support and care over the years. It has been our greatest honor to elevate everyday life and create a great shopping experience for people who love food as much as we do. It has been an honor to serve you and be a part of your daily life.

Snaxshot reports that Dom's did not place routine orders last week; The grocer has two Chicago-area locations in Lincoln Park (near the Lakeview border) and Old Town. On Monday's visit to the Old Town site, the produce section was taken over, with many staples missing. Some items, like the cucumbers, were already rotting. Several key members of the Outfox C-Suite began jumping ship last week, Snaxshot reports.

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Dom's Kitchen & Market opened its first two stores in 2021 in Lincoln Park.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

In February, the company named a new CEO, Rob Twyman, a veterinarian who has worked at Whole Foods for 27 years. Foxtrot debuted in 2016 in Chicago as a delivery-only app, tapping into alcohol delivery. Sales have boomed during the pandemic, with bars closed due to coronavirus precautions. But as the company matured, it evolved into a modern alternative to convenience stores, partnering with established brands like Pretty Cool Ice Cream and pasta restaurant Tortello. It provided another place for restaurateurs to sell their wares and build their brand while giving Foxtrot an advantage over traditional corner stores.

As her footprint grew, she began raising millions. In 2023 aloneThe company raised $18.6 million in debt financing while expanding to 33 locations primarily in four markets: Chicago, Austin, Texas, Dallas, and the Washington, D.C., area. The company invested in stores in prime locations including Fulton Market and Wicker Park's Four Corners and tapped Karen Herold — a restaurant designer who has worked at trendy places like GT Fish & Oyster, Maple & Ash, and Guinness Open Gate Brewery — to create Foxtrots. There are 15 Foxtrots in Chicago at locations including the Willis Tower and the former Tribune Tower. Apart from Willis, all are on the north side. In January 2023, they brought in Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine to tease the candy collaboration. Foxtrot representatives visited Chicago earlier this year and said the brand was interested in expanding into New York.

Dom's has historical connections to Chicago grocery stores. Bob Mariano was the co-founder and co-president of the chain. Mariano was friends with Dominick DiMatteo, of Dominick's Finer Food fame. He worked through the ranks and eventually became CEO, but left after Safeway bought the chain. He would start a new brand, Mariano's, which debuted in 2010 (pending federal approval, Mariano's is slated to merge with Chicago's popular Joel Osko).

After Kroger acquired Mariano's, Bob Mariano left the company in 2016 and eventually co-founded Dome. Dom A was supposed to open Location in summer in the North RiverIn addition to Place in Fulton Market. Another site He was headed to the outskirts of Vernon Hills.

Dom's, a store that oscillates between basic grocery and gourmet retailer, debuted in 2021 at the southwest corner of Diversey and Halsted in Lincoln Park. A second location opened in November 2022 in Old Town, and the ribbon cutting was attended by former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who listened as the company talked about expanding throughout Chicago; Dome's goal is to open 15 stores in Chicago by 2025.

Lightfoot praised the Dom's food hall, which has a deal with Bonci Pizza, a popular Italian pizzeria endorsed by Anthony Bourdain, to sell pies. In Lightfoot's eyes, stores like Dom's were key to providing affordable prepared food options, as inflation had made restaurants unaffordable for many people.

The location of the ancient city has been controversial. Dom's arrival prompted the exit of Plum Market, a Michigan-based retailer that had found a comfortable home along Wells Street for nine years. The Bloom estate was angry about the deal, saying it was done in secret, and would not allow them to negotiate. Apparently, according to Snaxshot, the Lincoln Park location was making money while Old Town was struggling. Neither the owners of Bonci nor Pretty Cool Ice Cream knew about the closure when reached by phone Tuesday morning.

In the past two weeks, workers have been concerned about the future of Outfox, which was a stark contrast to the image ownership wanted to project. The company showed ambition early in the year when it switched coffee roasters, bringing in La Colombe Café – Foxtrot Café had been considered a competitor to neighboring cafés. They planned a pop-up dinner to generate interest in a new snack. They saw potential in their potato chips and other snacks, including Chicago-style hot dog chips. But in the past two weeks, workers have sensed trouble for the once-promising company.

The story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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