Scolari’s, a chain of regional grocery stores founded in the Central Coast more than three decades ago, is closing its four tri-county locations within the next 60 days.
The real estate under three of the properties, in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, has been sold to NKT Commercial, a San Luis Obispo-based development company. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Nick Tompkins of NKT Commercial said in a news release that his firm is currently in discussions with numerous retailers and grocers who are interested in leasing the three properties.
Scolari’s said it is closing its Central Coast stores to focus on its 14 Nevada locations. “This was a gut-wrenching decision,” Joey Scolari, who co-owns the company with his brother Jerry, said in a news release.
Scolari said that the economic downturn hit the family-owned business hard, and that it’s been struggling to keep the California stores open since 2009. The Central Coast stores also present logistical challenges, he said, because they’re spread out along a 120-mile strip of coast and separated from the company’s headquarters by more than 400 miles.
The Central Coast “is not at all like Northern Nevada, where 10 of our 14 stores are within 15 miles of our headquarters and each other”, Scolari said in the release. “Maintaining operational consistency is difficult because of the geographic separation and reductions in the headquarters staff that have limited supervisory visits to the stores.”
The Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles stores will be closed sometime in the next two months, Scolari’s said, after each holds an inventory liquidation sale.
Joe Scolari, who has not been involved in the operations of the Scolari’s stores for several years, owned the three properties that have been sold to NKT. “Mr. Tompkins is a very capable developer who cares about these local communities and is well-suited to successfully redevelop these properties in a timely manner,” he said in a news release.
Joe Scolari and his father opened the first Scolari’s grocery store in 1974. That business grew to 12 stores, and in 1979 was sold to Lucky Stores. Three years later, the Scolari family purchased an ownership interest in and management control of a chain of stores, Warehouse Markets, that had been founded by Donald Baldwin in the late 1950s.
The family changed the name to Scolari’s Warehouse Markets, then to Scolari’s Food & Drug Co. In 1992, the Scolaris purchased Baldwin’s remaining interest in the Nevada stores.
Scolari’s re-entered the Central Coast market in 1988 when Joe Scolari’s sons, Joey and Jerry, took ownership of four stores from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles. Joe Scolari retired from the operations of Scolari’s Food and Drug several years ago.