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First Hill’s M Street Grocery shutting down — UPDATE

Madison’s independent supermarket M Street Grocery is going out of business after serving First Hill since its summer 2007 opening. Signs posted at the 801 Madison store advertise a closing sale and, according to shopper @alexjon, an explanation from the owners about why they are shutting down: “They have signs that say the landlord ordered them to close on or before January 28th. If you want cheap beer, get there now.”

M Street was opened by Bainbridge Island couple Matthew and Marie Randish in June 2007 as an “urban market” and a neighborhood store. UPDATE: See comments from Randish, below. Here’s how their press release described the store:

Following the grocery path of his grandfather and father, Matt really knows how to create a special store experience. Located at 8th and Madison, just a block north from the I-5 exit, M Street Grocery is a full-scale grocery store featuring superb fresh food choices. Patrons will find there is FREE parking in the garage next to the store, perfect for running in and out on an office break or for when shoppers need more time to cruise the aisles. M Street Grocery replaces the old Shop Rite on First Hill. The new building was recently completed and houses M Street Grocery, a parking garage on the ground level, and the M Street Apartments towering above.

Whether you are stocking up for the week, or need to grab a quick bite, the store boasts a wide selection of organic and natural varieties, specialty meats and cheeses, beautiful produce, and a delicious deli called the M Street Cafe. Lunch and dinner are served at the M Street Cafe where they feature a sushi bar, soups, a salad bar, made-to-order sandwiches and subs, pizzas, and so much more. Patrons will also enjoy the M Street Coffee Bar and Bakery as it offers fresh brewed coffee and espresso beverages and scrumptious oven-baked pastries, muffins, cheesecake and scones every day. Another great convenience is one hour of FREE Wi Fi access with a purchase from the M Street Coffee Bar or Bakery.

The closure leaves First Hill residents with nearby grocery options limited to the Harvard Market QFC, Madison Market Co-op (UPDATE: sorry for leaving out in first rev) or Trader Joe’s at 16th and Madison and, of course, a growing fleet of online options.

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56 thoughts on “First Hill’s M Street Grocery shutting down — UPDATE” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. “The closure leaves First Hill residents with nearby grocery options limited to the Harvard Market QFC or Trader Joe’s at 16th and Madison and, of course, a growing fleet of online options.”

    Does this mean the Madison Market Coop at 15th & Madison has disappeared?

  2. That’s a shame. I’ve wanted to go there many times after exiting I-5. I didn’t because I assumed there was no parking lot. Better signage?

  3. Too bad. I don’t think supermarkets can open without parking. Their spaces were small but they always had them.

  4. There is also the Kress IGA on 3rd Ave. between Pike and Union. I wonder if this store opening had any impact on M Street?

  5. This is a big blow to First Hill, it’s sad about M Street Market Closing, I just moved away from First Hill and I used to go to the market all the time. I walked, I drove and they had plenty of parking, it was the fastest market you could get in and out of in no time with friendly people.

    First Hill is endager of becoming totally over run with health care facilities and few neighborhood services, those neighborhood places like M Street create a sense of community, but few people are paying attention to First Hill! Isnt the M-Street building owned by Paul Allen (OpusVulcan), why do they need the space if thats why the Market is closing? Opus (Paul Allen’s developement company) still has a 99 year lease on the property where the Old US Bank (Madison and Minor) was located, but plans are on hold for his ApartmentMedical Office building which violated City Neighborhood plans, and I might add active neighborhood imput was given but largely ignored by the City of Seattle, so in the big picture the M Street Market’s closing on First Hill may seem like just a lost convenience, but another neighborhood service is going to be gone. Maybe the residents of First Hill will get lucky and another lunch only place will move in or even better another Medical Office space. What a shame!

  6. The article states the building is owned by the Ohio Teachers’ Retirement Fund–Paul Allen isn’t responsible for everything that happens in this city.

    First Hill has been dominated by medical facilities for decades. It’s hardly a new thing.

  7. As much as I LOVED having M Street Grocery this close, they ran a pretty sloppy operation. Most of the employees were really nice people, but there were far too many of them.

    There was pretty much no indication that they were having financial troubles, up until yesterday, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

    They’re trying hard to vilify their landlords, but you’d have to be crazy to think that they’d rather have that spot empty than to have a grocery store in it (something they tout quite a bit on their website, in fact). I doubt they expect to fill it quickly, either, so it doesn’t seem as if they were trying to “drive them out”. I suspect there’s something more to this story (as there always is).

    That said – they will be missed.

  8. Store was doing fine. They doubled the rent and tried to give the store a month at that new price to sell out its inventory at clearance prices. When that impossible request was rejected they sent an order to vacate. Does that not qualify as “driving them out?”

  9. There’s nothing in your article on the definitive reason that M Street is closing. Did they in fact lose their lease or is there really another reason why the place is closing? If they did lose their lease what is the landlord putting in the space instead? Seems strange since the place is tricked out to be a grocery. Someone’s not telling the full story here.

  10. I’ve been living on First Hill since the ShopRite days. That site was a huge hole in the ground for years until the city bent over backwards for someone to develop it. They rezoned it, waived height requirements, even got some govt money for development.

    The project revitalized the whole neighborhood. The architect and the city even won an award for the design. It led to a bunch of improvements, new sidewalks and streetlights on 8th Ave, plus an increased police presence. Now they jettison the grocery with little or no warning? Who are they going to rent to, there are empty retail spaces everywhere around it. Something doesn’t add up.

  11. Sent Thursday night:

    Dear Residents,

    As many of you may have already heard, M Street Grocery will be closing as early as tomorrow. I speak for all of us when I say we are truly sorry to see them leave!

    We would like clarify and put minds at ease that we did not ask the grocery store to leave or give them a substantial rent increase and no other management action was taken to close the store.

    Unfortunately the neighborhood has just not been able to provide the business needed to support a full service grocery store. If there is anything we can do to help alleviate any inconvenience this may cause or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let us know.

    Thank you,
    Jennifer, Joy, Brian, Cameron, Ed, Quinitin, Ngoc and Jose

    Doesn’t sound like First Hill needs $4/hr parking to me…

  12. As I understand it M Street took the space back in 2007 with assurances from the landlord/building owner that some kind of Medical Clinic was leasing most of the commercial space upstairs. M Street saw the advantage of having a built in clientele using their grocery store for everything from lattes during breaks, sandwiches for lunch and groceries when the medical employees were on their way home. I don’t know what happened but the spaces are still vacant and M Street had to scramble for customers with a niche for a good butcher shop, fresh veggies, great customer service and special promotions etc.. When the PolyClinic recently committed to leasing all of the space at the vacant 7th and Madison Building I was very happy that that would help M Street and relieved that they had hung in there during the tough times and were going to be rewarded. I guess not huh? I wonder what the REAL story is. M Street is too classy to point fingers but it will be interesting to see who takes their space. Will PolyClinic fill in there and upstairs too? You know it’s about “the money” but I hope that Matt lands on his feet, he’s a good guy and he takes care of his people.

  13. Just got back from M Street- too bad their employees found out yesterday that today would be their last day of employment.

  14. Man, that sucks. We’d love to help anybody in any way. Send resumes. Still, better than some situations that find out from us that things are changing.

  15. I worked at M Street Grocery from the day it opened until today. The day we closed. There are 32 of us that are now without jobs and benefits. There are 32 of us that have become friends and family to one another. There are 32 of us without a store owner and his family that cared enough about the store, the neighborhood, the staff, and the customers to keep plugging along even if it meant hardship for themselves. Some of what I have read on this page is factual. Some of it is not. To those of you that supported us, thank you. To those who are just speculating or here to critique what we have lost, please respect the fact that for the 32 of us, the members of the Randish family, and the community that will in fact miss us, this day is sorrow ridden.

  16. Today was my final day of work at M Street Grocery:(I loved my job and worked with so many rad people that I hold very close to my heart.I will miss this place so much.We all had such great days together working and joking around and laughing.We will all keep in touch and continue to look after each other..I’m so sad to have to leave that place.Thank you so much Lori for being the best boss, Rusty,Valentine,Ryan,Billy and the owners for always taking great care of us.You will be missed.R.I.P. M Street

  17. Matt, Marie, Jen, Janice, Steve, Dan, Eve, Krystyna, Sabrina, Alex, Yasmine, Andi, Jen Q., Jennifer, Sarah, Katherine, Ted, Moon, Jake, Aubri aka Dairy Princess, John aka Billy, Ryan aka My Son, and my staff …. Dana aka Reba, Russell aka Rusty Jenkins, Valentine, Matthew, Biggie, Huong, and Brian. Thanks for the memories. We walked the walk. Love….. Mama Lori

  18. Wouldn’t want your residents to be scared of a rent increase or to start wondering if they should move somewhere where they can run and get a quick bite would we?

  19. You know what I love about Amazon Fresh? I don’t ever have to leave my apartment, contribute to the economy or develop social skills. It’s great!

  20. I moved here a little over a year ago. I convinced my girlfriend at the time and my wife now to follow me 3500 miles across the US to a place she had never even been before. When we first got here she got a job where her boss belittled her and made her feel utterly worthless. I thought I had ruined her life. Then one day day she got a call about a job here at M Street. She went on the interview where she met her soon to be boss and great friend and was finally excited again. For the past year she would come home and tell me all about the weird and interesting people that came into the store and all the different food she got to cook (she loves to cook!!). I spend my life trying to make this woman smile, but nothing can compare to the smile she had on her face as she would tell me these stories. M street may be just a store or a property to some people, but to others it was a home away from home. It’s truly a shame that 32 people get to wake up tomorrow knowing that the reason they don’t have a job is not because they failed or the economy/government failed them, but because some guy(s)/girl(s) somewhere decided that these 32 peoples happiness has a higher price tag. It goes to show you that it doesn’t matter how hard a business try’s to do it right, that all it takes is a notion of higher self worth for it all to come crashing down. And for those that helped put a smile on my wifes face for the last year, I am eternally grateful. Cheers to you all!!

  21. Well said my soon to be friend! :)! Twas the best job I ever had because of the people there. A family I am sure will survive the store.
    Shame the fuck on you Ohio Teachers’ Retirement Fund.

  22. My name is Matt Randish owner of M Street Grocery.First off I want to say thank you to my wonderful staff and the customers who shopped with us. Thank you. This was very unfortunate that the store had to close. For me now I have a big responsibility it is time to do what is right in the community, myself, the owners of the building and especially for my employees.I have a big job ahead of me still. There is a lot of comments that are not true and some that are. All I have to say that this was unfortunate and we need to move on and especially spend efforts and energy to help find jobs for a great bunch of people. The landlord and M Street Grocery were not able to reach an agreement which was unfortunate, Thats all it is. Once we vacate the space whoever goes in please support them, Its a great space and I still believe in it. Its a well run building and this ordeal has been hard for everyone. If any of you have any leeds for jobs please lets post. Thanks again Matt

    Also we will reopen on Tuesday at 8 am to finish the liquidation sale.

  23. It is really a shame that some people have to pour salt in a wound that is still festering…that said thank you everyone that made my days bright and cheery.
    I was at M Street for 1 1/2 years and truly enjoyed my job, which was something that hadn’t happened in a while for me. So to my co-workers and boss…a big fat smooch…thank you for the good times!!!
    To those of you that don’t have anything nice to say or that are merely speculating…keep it to yourself.

  24. The owner is an idiot. Losing a first-class grocery store within walking distance will be a big setback for the neighborhood, including his overpriced condos upstairs. Thanks, jerk. It took a decade to replace the old Shoprite and this may be the last.

  25. Hey “M Street,” don’t close . . . move! There is the big empty space across the street from Broadway QFC (Broadway & Republican) that’s just begging for an “M Street” type store. For my family, having an “M Street” type store within walking distance would be heaven.

  26. Saw this over at Reddit, maybe drop them a (polite) message urging them to reconsider their decision:

    The building is owned by the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio. Contact info for their Western region director:

    William A. Shurman

    Director, West Regional Office

    (415) 352-3280

    44 Montgomery Street, Suite #2388

    San Francisco, CA 94104-4704

    It’s likely that they have no involvement in the administration/management of the building, but as owners they are undoubtedly in a position to put pressure on the landlords if you make a good case.

  27. I am so incredibly disappointed to hear that M-Street Grocery will no longer be in business. This is very unfortunate news. Matthew Randish is considerably one of the most genuine and influential icons to family business I have ever met. Cheers to new and finer opportunities for the Randish family and M Street Grocery employees. And a note to any landlord out there (commercial or residential), be more involved in your business. First-hand customer service and communication can not be sacrificed in this economy.

  28. I find it so sad that this great local grocery has been kicked out because the greed of corporates wanted to hike the rent. While I still shop at places like Trader Joe’s and Safeway (for limited items)I loved having a local spot for daily use. M street was a staple in First Hill and will be missed. I really hope that with them being forced out that the retail space remains empty so the greedy landlord realizes that higher rent prices was his/her own downfall too.

    Hopefully Mr & Mrs. Randish will make it through this tough time and I really hope their 32 (now unemployed) employees find new jobs and no hardships fall upon them.

  29. I would like to offer up a collective thank you from the employees of M Street Grocery. Now unemployed, but still family to each other. We appreciate the positive words that have been posted about M Street, Matt, us as a staff, and your good wishes for our futures. The M Street 32 are an exceptional group of loyal, hardworking, and kindhearted people. Matt Randish called us family. And treated us as such.


  30. Couple of things jump out here. “we did not ask the grocery store to leave or give them a substantial rent increase …” What does “substantial” mean in this context? 20%? 30%? Why did they feel the need to include that qualifier in their statement?

    Then there’s this blithe assertion: “Unfortunately the neighborhood has just not been able to provide the business needed to support a full service grocery store.” Never mind the last four years, it’s your fault, stoopid residents. You didn’t spend enough money.

  31. Matt, I heard your name on TV this morning and was very sad to hear the news! don’t know if you remember me from the old ferry riding days & Suquamish :) I still live over near your sister’s dental office; and do think of you guys now & again. I hope this is a “WeiJi” – in every crisis there is an opportunity. Wishing you well!
    Melinda DeBruler

  32. This is unbelievable! Went to stop by on my lunch hour and….no store? However this happened it is a crying shame. I too waited years and years for a grocery to reappear at this location. It was the perfect place to shop on my way to work or on my way home or during lunch…. You were a great store!

  33. If you look in Matts past, every grocery store he has owned or operated has failed….low and behold after a few years…and it’s always the same excuse, the neighborhood wasn’t bringing in the money… He is one guy I would never want to work with again, freaking out and calling his on his wife names in front everyone,trying to get the girls working for him to go out on dates with him and if they wouldn’t, he just fire them and not give them a reason, he fired most his staff when he first opened the store., all the staff that worked with him to get M street up and running, we were there in hard hats during construction…. I wouldn’t ever rent to that guy nor work for him!

  34. I completely agree with you, Matt Randish is a very “shady” man and i believe in karma and that he got what was coming to him. I also believe there is MUCH more to the story then he is letting on. I am truely sorry to all the great people that did lose their jobs and wish the best to them, well most of them.

  35. You are absurd! I’ve been a female employee of his and his wife for years, and never experienced what you describe. He spoke his mind and called BS when he saw it. He was an HONEST man. Some people can’t handle truth, but he always rewarded hard work,honesty, and loyalty. You are obviously a very bitter ex employee who got let go for more than just cause. You should take your sour grapes and try to improve yourself, not libel a GOOD man. I hope everybody can see your HATEFUL words for what they are: Disgusting trash talk. I’ve known employees who got let go for incompetence, theft, and spreading a malicious, toxic atmosphere, but never for the reasons you state

  36. Hi Matt,

    I’m writing a story about the store’s closure for Monday’s paper and would like to speak with you today. If you receive this, please call me.

    Anyone else know how to reach Matt? Let me know.

    Thank you,
    Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce
    206 622 8272

  37. It is pretty easy to see through those negative comments. Those commenters would better use their time backing up any criticisms that they have rather than lazily adopting a scathing tone.

  38. I miss Nils. WE MISS YOU NILS.

    …sorry for being total dumbasses in the store.

    I moved from the Envoy up the street from the store to somewhere else so I haven’t gone to M Street… then noticed it was closed today on my way to work, now I’m bummed. I used to go there almost every day how could I not know?? Weh :c

  39. Matt is mostly a good guy, but so focused on success that he overlooked some things and was not always completely truthful. The landlord had agreed to reduced rent for a few years and finally had to ask for full rent, there was never any “increase ” over the original rent. Also i object to his comment about his employees almost all being there since day one. I was one of those there at the beginning and there was exactly 1 employee left from the original crew when the store closed. Having said all that, I Do wish Matt and his family the best.

  40. The opening of Kress had no impact on M Street. The 2 stores are almost a mile apart. M Street lost their lease due to the greedy and ignorant midwest landlord. Btw, about 6 or so former M Street employees are now working at Kress.