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Greenhouse Market closes

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Stick a fork in them, they're done.

Greenhouse Market closed its doors to Springfield shoppers and diners at 7 a.m. July 7. The eatery, which was a combination restaurant and home meal replacement store, was about two months away from its one-year anniversary in Springfield, said Mark Gideon, spokesman for Noble & Associates, the local company that owns the Greenhouse Market.

Greenhouse Market opened in September 1997 at 3662 S. Glenstone, and when it did, it brought a new concept to Springfield, said Bob Noble, founder of Noble & Associates and of the Greenhouse Market.

The concept came out of a growing consumer trend toward "convenient meal solutions," Noble said. Though most people prefer not to cook, they prefer to eat at home. Therefore, they need a way to get a quality meal without having to prepare it or go to a restaurant, Noble said.

"The idea was to make good food food that is made from scratch available in such a way that it can be taken home, heated and eaten," Noble said.

The problem for the Greenhouse Market was that not enough of its business was of the home meal replacement variety. Most people were eating at the Greenhouse Market as they would any other restaurant, and the prepared foods were not selling as well as they should have.

"We had considerable interest in the home meal replacement side of it, but there just weren't enough people interested in it," Noble said.

The restaurant didn't fail, Noble said, but the "Better Food to Go" side of the operation failed.

"Springfield is a wonderful test market, and it's a tough test market, and we knew that starting out. We knew it would be a challenge to create this new supermarket/ grocery store concept," Noble said.

The Greenhouse Market employed about 75 people and spent the days after the closing helping those workers find other jobs, Gideon said. The company held a workshop and job fair for the former employees July 9.

Approximately 12 of the staff members were salaried; most salaried employees received severance pay.

The building that housed Greenhouse Market is owned by Noble. The company will either look at converting it into a research and development center or, if an offer is made, selling it. Fixtures and furniture will remain for now, Noble said. The fork sculpture outside the building will become part of the landscape at Noble's new headquarters in Chesterfield Village.

Noble said it was important not to look at the Greenhouse Market's closing as another south-side restaurant failing.

"The restaurant didn't fail. Better Food to Go failed. If we'd added 100 more seats to the restaurant, we would have filled them, but we weren't doing the business we needed to on the home meal replacement side," Noble said.

The concept is one that could be tried in other markets, Noble said, but the company has no immediate plans to try a Greenhouse Market-type business somewhere else. Right now, it will concentrate on the advertising agency end of its business, which is "growing exponentially," Noble said.

Both Noble and Gideon said they felt Springfield had lost a gift with the loss of Greenhouse Market.

"People out there should learn a lesson from this: if you like a locally owned place, you'd better support it," Gideon said.

"Springfield will have lost an important piece of its quality of life with the loss of Greenhouse Market," Noble said.

Trip Kadey, who co-owns the James River Grill, said the Springfield market is somewhat saturated with eateries on the south side. His restaurant is also experimenting with home meal replacement, though not as a grocery-type business. James River Grill has a drive-up window where it sells complete barbecue dinners to take home.

"The home meal replacement is an area where we could do better. We haven't probably put as much marketing into it as we should have yet. That is an area we're going to try to expand," Kadey said.

Kadey said he was "sad to see the Greenhouse Market go," and that the business didn't fail because it was not a good business, but because of the market.

"I think it was a market issue that led to their failure. In this particular spot ... there just wasn't a market for it," Kadey said.

Noble said Springfield was smaller than most markets where a concept like the Greenhouse Market has succeeded.

"Springfield lacks about 150,000 in population," Noble said.

The company will now focus on getting its new corporate headquarters built and ready, Gideon said. A deal to purchase another building in Chesterfield Village, the former Ry Bread and Apple Cor's building, has not yet closed, Gideon said.

Catering orders will continue to be honored, as will gift certificates, which are now redeemable at Ristorante Teatro.


Springfield "lost a gift" when Greenhouse Market closed, said spokesman Mark Gideon. The market opened in September 1997 to test the market for home meal replacement in the area.[[In-content Ad]]


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