The message — written by the owners in yellow chalk on a blackboard — tells the story:
“We regret wholeheartedly the closure of Grassroots. Thank you for entrusting us with your health and sharing a part of this journey with us.
“We are very saddened to close our doors and we thank every one of you for allowing us the opportunity to have been in business for over 40 years,” the Grassroots closure sign said.
The announcement came on March 1 that Grassroots Natural Market and Kitchen, located at 1119 Fair Oaks Ave., would close once everything had been sold.
The kitchen, which fixed tamales on special occasions and always promised single-portion frozen dinners, as well as orders for turkeys on the holidays, had been closed since earlier this year.
The store billed itself as a center for homeopathic remedies, vitamins, herbs, homemade meals, specialty foods and allergy-sensitive products.
What the blackboard message didn’t say was that Grassroots was partly a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, said manager Ricky Rodriquez.
“The pandemic really hit us hard and business just never came back the way we thought it would,” Rodriquez said.
“Everyone just found other ways to shop… We’ve had people come in now that we are closing who said that they had just never been in here before,” he said.
Charlotte Rowlands, a South Pasadena chef, is no stranger to Grassroots and labeled herself “disappointed” by the news. She said she has been coming in every few weeks for 15 years — to browse for medicinal items or to get a good meal, such as the Cuban salad.
“Being a chef, I know a good meal; and the food here was phenomenal,” she said.
“I’d also come to browse for things like vitamins or eye drops that I really liked that I could come and get here.”
Other changes also will be coming soon to South Pasadena’s food landscape — Carrows Restaurant at 815 Fremont Avenue has had a sign on its front door announcing its fate:
“This restaurant is permanently closed.”
The fate of the restaurant had been sealed some time ago, when the land was purchased for a multi-purpose site, which will include both residential and retail space.
The restaurant was built in 1978 and was at the corner of Mission Street and Fremont Avenue. It featured a large parking lot and soda fountain as well as rooms of tables where servers brought out meals from a full-service menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
People were still parking their cars, perhaps by habit — since the weekend brunch crowd was always good — and then shrugging their shoulders when they read that Carrows would no longer be open.