Pacific Ranch Markets has signed an agreement to take over the Irvine Ranch Farmers Market in Orange--leaving only one grocery store in the county still operating under the Irvine Ranch name.
Effective March 13, Santa Ana-based Pacific Ranch Markets will begin operating the 21,000-square-foot store at Newport and Chapman avenues, said Dan Parker, president of Tri Pacific Commercial Brokerage Inc., which represents Pacific Ranch.
The Orange store will be Pacific Ranch Markets’ third grocery store in Orange County. There is a second Pacific Ranch store in Laguna Niguel. The chain also operates the former Irvine Ranch Farmers Market in Newport Beach under the name Farmers Market at Atrium Court. Another Pacific Ranch Market operates in Corona del Mar, but it is under different, independent ownership.
The Irvine Ranch chain--which once operated 12 stores, seven of them in Orange County--filed for bankruptcy protection in 1988. Late last year, Tribu Inc., the parent of Chalet Gourmet in Los Angeles, bought Irvine Ranch’s stock and took control of the ailing chain.
It now appears that the Tribu and Chalet Gourmet investor group will soon be operating only two of the original Irvine Ranch markets.
Three of the original Irvine Ranch stores--in Mission Viejo, Yorba Linda and Northridge--have closed their doors since the bankruptcy filing. The owners of Chalet Gourmet have sold the Costa Mesa and Tustin stores, which are now operating under other names. A store in Texas has closed and another in San Diego is now being operated under a different name by the Hahn Co.
In Orange County, that leaves the Irvine Ranch store in Irvine, which is still operating, and a store in Brea that never opened.
Parker of Tri Pacific said Monday that his firm has submitted offers to lease the Irvine and Brea sites. The offers were by two different operators, neither of them Pacific Ranch Markets, Parker said.
Chalet Gourmet and its affiliates, meanwhile, are still operating the Irvine Ranch stores at the Beverly Center and in Woodland Hills. A spokesman for Chalet Gourmet, Irwin N. Gold, said Monday that the investor group “definitely will keep” those two stores.
Meanwhile, Jon Hubbard, founder of the Irvine Ranch chain, last month filed for personal bankruptcy and has become the manager of the Costa Mesa store, now called the Original Irvine Ranch Market.