On Wednesday, as I was leaving the Hollywood LA Fitness at Hollywood and Sycamore, I noticed people milling around in the under-construction Fresh and Easy market. Sure enough, the place had opened its doors at 10:00 that morning (click here for Curbed LA’s writeup and crazy pictures). I’d never been in a Fresh & Easy before, and I was impressed. It looks like a bit of a hybrid between a Trader Joe’s and a Ralphs — you can get fresh spicy tuna rolls and all manner of organic products, but you can also get Diet Coke and Lay’s Limon potato chips. Prices were excellent — a pound of butter was $2.08; the chips were $2.63. Outside the store, which is on the ground level of the complex, there’s a brand-new courtyard with outdoor seating that’ll undoubtedly become a local gathering place.
Big-time competition for TJs and Ralphs, to be sure, except for one thing: This store can’t sell alcoholic beverages. Retail liquor licenses are limited based on the population of the surrounding area, and in this particular geographic parcel, there are no licenses available. A couple of the workers told me that the store’s only chance is if another nearby retail establishment, such as the Longs Drugs across the courtyard, gives up or loses its license (because of sales to minors, for instance).
So until that unlikely event unfolds, the Fresh & Easy will be fresh, but, if you like a little wine with your meal, not so easy.