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Landmark Jurgensen's Market Closes Doors : Retailing: The Pasadena fixture was the last outlet of a gourmet food chain. Adjacent cafe will remain open.

July 20, 1993|GEORGE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jurgensen's Market, a Los Angeles-area gourmet food grocer for nearly six decades, has closed its only remaining store but will maintain its adjacent cafe. The Pasadena store, long a fixture at Lake Avenue and California Boulevard, was closed because it was no longer financially viable, said officials at Ojai Capital, the Pasadena-based company that owns the business.

The upscale grocery, which closed Saturday, will reopen Wednesday for a four-week liquidation sale. It was the only surviving store in an enterprise that once included 22 stores.

The deli and wine shop in the adjacent Ivy House will be closed today for remodeling but will reopen Wednesday with expanded offerings. The company will retain 12 of the 40 people who worked at the grocery. The property that housed the grocery will be leased, said Stephen Jacobs, food service manager at the grocery.

The enterprise was launched in 1935 by Harold S. Jurgensen, who opened his first store in Pasadena. In the early days, Jurgensen's catered to wealthy families and celebrities who preferred to have their gourmet delicacies and groceries delivered.

In the mid-1980s, the company--then publicly held--began losing money due to stiffer competition and changing shopping habits. In many areas, Irvine Ranch, Gelson's and Pavilions markets competed directly with the smaller Jurgensen's. Ojai purchased the company in 1988.

The Jurgensen's in Pasadena may have lost some of its business to the upscale Bristol Farms grocery in nearby South Pasadena, Jacobs said. Long known for its impeccable personalized service, gourmet food and vintage wine selection, Jurgensen's has been attracting older shoppers. In recent years, Jurgensen's tried to appeal to younger shoppers but failed to generate sizable sales increases.

Hoping to lure more customers, the owners of Jurgensen's in Pasadena decided to expand the selection of products by enlarging the store. Ojai spent several million dollars on an expansion that was completed in April, 1992, Jacobs said. But sales continued to lag.

"When the store reopened after the remodeling, business was not as strong as expected," Jacobs said.

The liquidation sale, which starts Wednesday and ends Aug. 21, will offer reductions on cookware, cookbooks, canned foods, wines and liquor.

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