Five years ago, much-loved supermarket chain Wegmans took a leap in opening a sprawling 130,000-plus-square-foot location at the Natick Mall, its only current location in such a venue.
On Thursday, the Rochester, N.Y.-based chain declared that experiment would come to an end.
The Natick location, one of the company’s largest, will close later this summer, with an exact date to be announced, the chain said in a press release. The 365 employees there will all be offered positions at other local Wegmans, according to the release.
“Making these decisions is never easy. However, we do it for the long-term benefit of our people, our customers, and our communities,” said Brien MacKendrick, the human resources director of Wegmans’ New England division, in the release. “Unfortunately, with this non-traditional location we are unable to attract enough customers for our business model to work.”
The chain may not be saying goodbye to Natick forever, however, with MacKendrick noting that the grocer is “eager to pursue new store locations in the area for the future.”
Five Wegmans locations will remain in Massachusetts, in Burlington, Medford, Chestnut Hill, Westwood, and Northborough. The chain has more than 100 locations along the East Coast.
The Natick Mall location, which took the place of a JCPenney, opened to much fanfare in 2018, boasting two stories, nearly 70,000 items, and a 32-seat wine tasting room. It initially housed the 260-seat Blue Dalia Restaurant and Tequila Bar, but that closed in 2019.
“Everyone in the industry is paying attention,” said company spokesperson Jo Natale to the Globe in 2018. “We’re not sure how people will shop the store because we’ve never done this before.”
This move comes as mall space across the region is being repurposed into apartment buildings and lab space as the suburban shopping palaces rethink their reason for being. The Natick Mall has embarked on several of these conversions in spaces formerly occupied by Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus, and has also welcomed experiential retail concepts such as entertainment complex Level99 and, soon, another location of the Puttshack mini golf venue.
Wegmans joins the ranks of a few other grocery stores in the region that have gone dark in recent years — Market Basket in Billerica and Whole Foods in Brookline both closed their doors in 2022. Openings, however, tend to be more common; Nubian Markets in Roxbury opened in May, and Addie’s, a pick-up only spot in Norwood, began welcoming customers in January. Trader Joe’s recently sought a liquor license for a potential new store on Boylston Street in Back Bay.
An earlier version of this story was updated to reflect the fact that the Natick Mall Wegmans is the only location currently in a mall, not the first Wegmans mall location.