After a month of uncertainty and cutbacks in staff and products, the downtown Grocery Bar on Main Street appears to have shut its doors for good only a week after part-owner and point man Sam Turner said he thought the store could stay open as a grocery-only model.
"The key is, the most important thing for the store is that it should remain open," said Turner last week.
But on Wednesday, the Facebook page of the Grocery Bar said the business was permanently closed. A Chattanooga police officer recorded the complaint of a local vendor who said Grocery Bar was behind on payments and refused to give up rented equipment.
The vendor, who asked to remain anonymous, said the Grocery Bar didn't alert his company of the pending closure. But the vendor said he called Grocery Bar to ask what was going on and was told his company's equipment would be available for pick-up at the front door.
On Wednesday, the equipment was gone and the officer said Turner would not open Grocery Bar's doors.
Enzo's was the first Southside grocery outlet in downtown Chattanooga in decades and was heralded by its developers as a key to the revitalization and livability of the city's urban core.
But the store was unable to succeed as primarily a grocery outlet and then later as a grocery and restaurant known as the Grocery Bar.
On Feb. 5, the Grocery Bar announced that it would close. But within hours the owners reversed themselves and announced that the store would stay open as a grocery-only business without the kitchen and food for on-site consumption. A 50 percent sale followed, with customers flocking to the store and leaving with cartloads of merchandise, as the owners tried to liquidate merchandise to pay bills.
That left some Grocery Bar customers feeling hoodwinked.
"Nice marketing ploy," said Matt Bramlett on Grocery Bar's Facebook page.
"Wait .. what? My emotions haven't been played like this since ninth grade," wrote Nancy Burmeister on the same Facebook page.
Former Grocery Bar employees also said that toward the end, payment sometimes came in the form of a personal check.
Shortly after the Feb. 5 social media uproar, Chattanooga chef and entrepreneur Daniel Lindley made a statement attempting to clarify his relationship to Grocery Bar. Lindley said he was a volunteer consultant only and was never an investor.
"I did not purchase nor acquire any ownership in Enzo's Market or Grocery Bar, nor did I receive any compensation for the time spent there," he said.
Lindley said he "has no financial interest in Enzo's Market or dba Grocery Bar and is not involved with the decision to stay open or close."
Earlier this week, the Grocery Bar shut down its twitter account. Turner did not answer or return phone calls on Wednesday.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6480.