Earth Fare grocery store in Asheville is coming back. Multiple sources confirm that former Earth Fare officials have purchased the brand and are planning to reopen the organic grocer.
The Earth Fare comeback was announced via a Facebook group of former employees. Social media posts followed, and I’ve confirmed the plans with other knowledgeable sources.
If Earth Fare grocery store does eventually reopen, it would be a stunning resurrection of a beloved Asheville brand and store that announced its sudden bankruptcy and closure earlier this year.
It was Feb. 3 that Earth Fare officials announced it would be closing all of its 50 organic grocery stores, ending the 45-year run of a company that began as a small outpost named Dinner for the Earth on Merrimon Avenue (in the Woolsey Dip, for Asheville natives) opened by founder Roger Derrough in 1975.
Derrough sold recipes for healthy eats for a penny each alongside his health food supplies. The store moved from north Asheville to downtown along Broadway Street in the building that is now the location of Moog Music. From there, Derrough connected with business partner Randy Talley, rebranded as Earth Fare and moved to a much larger location at Westgate Shopping Center off Patton Avenue.
Talley is said to be among the key players in the reconstituted Earth Fare, alongside Michael Cianciarulo, who joined Earth Fare in the late 1990s as president and CEO.
The private equity firm Oak Hill Partners bought the chain in 2012. The chain grew rapidly under the new ownership – perhaps too quickly, some analysts say in retrospect – while also competing in an ever crowded, competitive niche market.
Earth Fare announced it was going out of business and selling all its stores on Feb. 3. The announcement took employees by surprise, as it came the same day that most employees were notified. The following day, the company announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.