After months of rumors, sinking morale and shrinking inventory, the Dean & DeLuca store in Midtown has closed.
A sign in the window at 620 Eighth Avenue, on the ground floor of The New York Times building, made it official on Tuesday: “It is with deep regret that we announce the closing of this location. We have been a proud part of this neighborhood and building for over 10 years. From all of the Dean & DeLuca team, we thank you for all the years of support you’ve given us.”
The flagship store in SoHo, which opened in 1977 and helped introduce its Manhattan shoppers to gastronomic luxury and unusual specialties, was still open.
But it was nearly empty. In baskets that once brimmed with fresh, rare produce, there were only a handful of kiwis. On shelves once full of boutique sodas and premade salads, employees were unloading Coca-Cola and LaCroix from boxes. If not for the Dean & DeLuca branded merchandise — aprons, salts, tote bags — it might well have been any other bodega in the city.
Signs taped to columns said the company was preparing for renovations. Employees would not comment, and said the manager was not there.
Dean & DeLuca, owned by a Thai real estate magnate, has been closing stores all summer, amid mounting debts and complaints from suppliers that they had not been paid. When The New York Times first reported the closings in July, the company said it would shut three stores. Four more closed in August.
In addition to the SoHo store, the company website lists two locations in Hawaii, but neither had opened for the day at the time of publication.
When Pace Development, a company whose chief executive is Sorapoj Techakraisri, the scion of a wealthy real estate family, bought Dean & DeLuca in 2014, there were 40 locations.
In early August, The Nation, an English language publication in Bangkok, reported that Mr. Sorapoj planned to expand the chain through Asia, adding around 90 more stores in Thailand and outposts in five more Asian capitals. For the American stores, he said, “we are adjusting the Dean & DeLuca business to a more appropriate size by controlling expenditures both at its office and stores.”
Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for Dean & DeLuca said Tuesday that she had reached out to Mr. Sorapoj but not received a reply.
Although Mr. Sorapoj told The Times, through a representative, in July that current employees would be paid, paychecks have been repeatedly delayed. After the Midtown store closed without warning one day this month, some employees said they had not come in because they had not been paid.