An Acme supermarket will replace the Fresh Grocer at the corner of 40th and Walnut streets.
Less than a week after news broke that the Fresh Grocer would close next month, Penn officials confirmed that they have officially signed a lease with Acme Markets to replace the Fresh Grocer's current location.
Acme is currently working on a timeframe for renovations to the existing facility and an anticipated opening date, Director of Communications for Facilities and Real Estate Services Jennifer Rizzi wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. Rizzi wrote that the University hopes to open the new supermarket later this year, but did not provide further details on the timeline.
With its closure imminent, shelves at the Fresh Grocer are also beginning to empty while some have been completely removed. Director of Marketing for the Fresh Grocer's parent company Metro City Management Carly Spross did not respond to a request for comment on whether the store has stopped restocking products.
Penn terminated the Fresh Grocer's lease in April 2016, claiming they failed to renew it "in a timely fashion," according to a Facilities and Real Estate Services statement from December 2016. The Fresh Grocer then filed a lawsuit against the University in December 2016. Penn and Acme Markets officially announced in April 2017 that an Acme supermarket will replace the Fresh Grocer.
The Fresh Grocer closed temporarily in August 2019 after inspection officials found three instances of "foodborne illness risk factors" and six instances of a "lack of good retail practices," according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Clean Plates project. The Clean Plates report also noted "visible physical evidence of rodent/insect activity," including a "heavy accumulation of mice feces" in the food preparation area and mice droppings in the storage area for food packaging materials.
Many students told the DP they found the store's closure "unnecessary" and criticized the University's decision to replace the Fresh Grocer with an Acme location, which they believe to be less affordable. Students also raised concerns over losing the convenience of 24/7 service and proximity during the vacancy period before the Acme store opens.
In 2018, Philadelphia Magazine compared four grocery stores in Philadelphia — Acme, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Aldi — and found Acme to be the most expensive.
Beginning on March 9, Penn Bus East will have a designated stop at South Square Market located at 2221 South St., according to Rizzi. Additional modifications to Penn Transit’s schedules and routes are also being considered, and details on these plans will be announced before the Fresh Grocer closes, Rizzi wrote.
In response to student concerns, Rizzi wrote that the Trader Joe's at 2121 Market St., Gourmet Grocer in 1920 Commons, and Heirloom Market at 34th and Chestnut streets are other options available to the Penn community.
Penn Transit extended the Trader Joe's shuttle pilot program from February 1 until April 4 and will continue bringing students to Trader Joe's for free. Shuttles run on Thursday and Saturday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:55 p.m.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.