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Foxtrot Market and Dom's Kitchen & Market abruptly close 6 months after merger

Attorney says abrupt closure of Foxtrot, Dom's may have violated labor law
Attorney says abrupt closure of Foxtrot, Dom's may have violated labor law 02:45

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two Chicago-based grocery chains, Dom's Kitchen & Market and Foxtrot Market, suddenly closed their stores Tuesday.

This came six months after the chains announced a merger.

"It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you of a difficult decision we have had to make. After much consideration and evaluation, we regret to announce that Foxtrot and Dom's Kitchen & Market will be closing their doors starting on April 23, 2024," Dom's Kitchen & Market wrote in a message on their website. "We explored many avenues to continue the business but found no viable option despite good faith and exhaustive efforts."

In November, Dom's – a pair of upscale grocery stores – and Foxtrot – a high-end convenience store chain – announced they were merging under the new entity Outfox Hospitality.

Each and every Dom's and Foxtrot store closed Tuesday. Delivery was halted, mobile apps went dark, and store credit cards were cut off. 

All Foxtrot and Dom's account credits and member perks were voided effective Tuesday.

The closure affects both Dom's locations in Chicago, and all 33 Foxtrot stores in Chicago; Austin and Dallas, Texas; and the Washington D.C. area.

"This decision has not been made lightly, and we understand the impact it will have on you, our loyal customers, as well as our dedicated team members. We want to express our sincerest gratitude for your support and patronage throughout the years. It has been our highest honor to elevate the everyday and create a remarkable shopping experience for people who love food as much as we do. It has been a privilege serving you and being a part of your everyday lives," the companies said in a statement.

Employees, customers shocked by sudden shutdown

With the closures, hundreds are out of work.

Monica Perez worked at the Lincoln Park Dom's at 2730 N. Halsted St. A few years ago, an entire strip mall was completely overhauled to make way for the new Dom's. Now, the store that had occupied that new building is suddenly out of business, and Perez is out of a job.

"We just got here, and apparently everything is closing," said Monica Perez, "so a lot of people—everyone here—are out of work now."

Employees say they were blindsided before work. There were no signals at all of the impending closures, employees said. There were just signs on the door, each store with its own.

"I didn't even get a call from a manager," said Perez. "I showed up like a regular day."

Meanwhile, Perez and other now-jobless employees wondered what was next for them, as their paychecks will soon end.

"I don't got a job now," Perez said. "Now I've got to go back and search for a job."

Foxtrot, Dom's Kitchen & Market suddenly go out of business 02:15

Suppliers also caught by surprise

The announcement also came as a surprise to local businesses that had supplied Foxtrot and Dom's with food.

"We made deliveries as recently as yesterday," said Michael Ciapciak, owner of Big Bang Pie, which also has a retail outlet of its own in Logan Square.

Ciapciak said Foxtrot and Dom's didn't give him any notice either. They were one of his largest customers.

"It's discouraging, you know. We'll be just fine," said Ciapciak said. "We're fortunate to have this retail location."

Representatives of a number of local businesses that supply goods to Foxtrot and Dom's said they will now have to try to recoup the money owed to them for recent orders.

Attorney says closure may have violated labor law

Questions have also begun to bubble up among some employees as to whether the company properly notified them. Under Illinois state law, employers must notify the state when they plan to lay off workers as part of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. 

"So these employees, it seems like, were given not even a minute's notice, said Laura Feldman, employment and labor law attorney with The Prinz Law Firm.

Under the WARN Act in Illinois, employers with 75 employees or more must give 60 days' written notice of any closing or mass layoff. That apparently did not happen.

"What jumps out to me is a potential WARN Act violation," said Feldman.

Feldman said federal and state law protects workers in such scenarios. In fact, just last month, a judge awarded employees of the Signature Room atop the former John Hancock Center more than $1.5 million in back pay – after the iconic restaurant and lounge abruptly closed in September 2023 without proper notice for workers.

Dom's launched in Chicago in June 2021 in Lincoln Park as a new concept from Bob Mariano, founder of the Mariano's grocery store chain in Chicago. Their second location opened in Old Town in November 2022. 

Described as the "newest next-generation local food emporium," Dom's was a small-scale grocery focused on specialty items, prepared foods, and locally sourced products. Stores also featured wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, coffee shops, and wine and beer that customers could drink while they shopped.

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