A major Magnolia Park business is calling it quits. This time it’s not a huge spike in the rent to blame, but a dramatic drop off in business. Management at Full O’ Life, 2515 West Magnolia Blvd, broke the bad news to employees last Tuesday. Full O’ Life, a healthy foods market and cafe, opened back in June of 1959. Cindy Moon and her mother, Kay Matheson, 97, are the owners.
The opening of Whole Foods
The family run business has weathered a lot of hard times, but the recent opening of the highly touted Whole Foods store/restaurant in the Media City was the tipping point. “We’ve tried so hard in the last year to prepare for Whole Foods arriving. We remodeled, we went all organic,
we aimed to be more a specialty market that carried items that WF and Sprouts didn’t carry. We added breakfast, coffee bar, fresh juices, smoothies. I tried to open for dinner, advertised for months for cooks & could not find a kitchen staff…. Everything I tried failed to bring in customers.” Cindy Moon said in an email to Media City Groove.
“We were struggling before then … first day (Whole Foods opened) business dropped more than half,”according to Chris Moon, grocery manager who has worked in his family’s business for 24 years. Mrs. Moon added,”I know sales are down in MP (Magnolia Park) in general, but once WF (Whole Foods) opened that was it.”
The closure is hitting the workers hard. “We currently have less than 20 employees, most have worked for us from 10-20+ years & are devastated to lose their jobs that they love. Especially me, I’ve worked there my whole life from the age of 12…I’m 58 now & losing what I’m most passionate about, my family business, “Mrs. Moon said.
The fact that Full O’ Life was in a fight for survival did not go unnoticed by city officials and local organizations, but the response has been disappointing for Mrs. Moon: “No one has ever reached out to me except the Burbank Chamber of Commerce & mostly that was for wanting to collect dues.”
Failed Magnolia Park P-Bid
Mrs. Moon believes she has tried to do her part in helping Magnolia Park develop, but thinks city officials have failed to deliver on past commitments. “Magnolia Park P-BID cost us $25k over 5 years. It benefited us zero, nothing they promised happened. Throwing parties & big events helped nothing. They put up flower boxes & some banners & that was it. The people in charge were rude. I hope this does not come back!”
She is not alone in feeling shafted by this failed partnership. After five years, the P-BID was voted out by Magnolia Park property owners back in 2011. Among the no voters, then Burbank Councilman/business owner, Dr. David Gordon. So you’ve got to wonder why the present council members like Jess Talamantes and Emily Gabel-Luddy continue to describe this P-Bid as a success.
Surprisingly, once the word got around that Full O’ Life was closing, business picked up. “It was interesting how busy we were on Thursday after we announced the closing. I think people will really miss us, apparently people have taken for granted that we will always be there,” Mrs. Moon observed.
Full O’ Life set to close on September 21, 2018
So Full O’ Life is set to close its doors permanently next month on Friday, September 21.
The family owns the building, which is in a great location with parking! The family reportedly plans to lease the building. Many of the locals are hoping an attention grabbing restaurant with great food will move into the structure.
Magnolia Park Sizzler leaving Magnolia Park
Another prime restaurant space in Magnolia Park is getting interest. The Sizzler site, 1145 North Hollywood Way, first appeared in the commercial listing for sale. In an email, Burbank Community Development Director, Patrick Prescott, said: “We are aware it is for sale and we agree it is a great opportunity. We have been reaching out to potential tenants as we often do when there are vacant spaces in the city.”
Now, there is a second listing for this property saying it’s for lease. The listing puts the available date as July 1, 2019. Either way, the property is going to be vacant soon. This means there are at least two locations in Magnolia Park, probably more, where city officials can make good on past promises to bring in the caliber of restaurants, which contribute to the booming business in downtown Burbank.