The world’s first Saks Fifth Avenue food hall will be shutting its doors at the end of the month at CF Sherway Gardens in Toronto, marking the end of a chapter that began in 2016 with Saks entering the Canadian market with two stores in the city.
Toronto-based Pusateri’s Fine Foods operates the CF Sherway Saks food hall which opened along with Saks fashion store in March of 2016 — the idea was that the food hall would become an attraction to draw visitors into the store, and it appears that it wasn’t a success. Pusateri’s also opened a Saks food hall in downtown Toronto in November of 2016 and that food store will remain open for now.
The CF Sherway Gardens Saks food hall spans about 18,500 square feet according to the retailer, and houses a range of prepared food items, grocery options, and at one time had seating areas with ten culinary stations including a prosciutto bar, Champagne and raw bar, sushi bar, cold-pressed juice bar, café, full service hot food counter, rotisserie, and even a Nutella café. A visit last week showed some of the food hall already being empty although some grocery items are still in-store prior to its final scheduled closure on January 28th.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s men’s department was once located next to the basement-level food hall. Menswear was moved upstairs during the pandemic where some women’s fashions had been located, resulting in a downsizing of the 48,920 square foot women’s fashion floor that also included the elimination of the women’s luxury brands that were once located there. That included former women’s boutique spaces for some big-name designers that opened with the store in March of 2016 such as Alexander McQueen, Etro, Akris Punto, Max Mara and others.
It’s not yet known what will be done with the 43,700 square foot basement level of Saks after the food hall closes — with menswear having moved upstairs, the entire lower level will become vacant. Currently there’s a large cut-out open area between the grocery store and the fashion store above providing visibility between the two floors.
The 49,000 square foot main floor of the Saks store still features a range of handbag boutiques, jewellery, cosmetics, footwear and a 5,500 square foot restaurant branded Beaumont Kitchen. The selection of women’s shoes appeared sparse last week and one shoe area had been cordoned off.
A former Nancy Gonzalez handbag boutique on the main floor has been converted to another brand — Gonzalez, known for making pricey bags in exotic skins, is in legal troubles after being accused of smuggling crocodile handbags and could face jail time.
Overall, the Saks space features high ceilings and an attractive design with little change since Saks’ opening nearly seven years ago. In 1971 Eaton’s opened in the mall and its box is now occupied by both Saks and a Sport Chek flagship — Saks occupies more than 143,000 square feet though its actual retail presence is now about 100,000 square feet with the loss of the lower level. The Eaton’s influence actually saw the mall’s developer at the time shift the design of the mall so that Eaton’s was visible from both freeways beside Sherway Gardens.
The exit of the Pusateri’s-run Saks food hall at CF Sherway Gardens follows the recent announcement that Italian food concept Eataly will be opening in the mall. The Eataly store will be located next to where Saks is currently operating and Eataly hasn’t yet said when the store will be opening. A wall of non-branded hoarding beside Saks will eventually become home to Eataly when construction is completed.
Pusateri’s opened its second Saks food hall in November of 2016 in the subway/PATH level of Saks Fifth Avenue in downtown Toronto. Its construction had been delayed — Saks opened its three level fashion store downtown in February of 2016 and construction delays saw the grocery component open about nine months later. The downtown Saks food hall was closed for much of the pandemic and has since partially reopened, though foot traffic in that part of downtown Toronto is still down significantly given that many are working from home. Prior to the pandemic, more than 50,000 people would pass the store via the underground PATH network daily.
We recently reported that the downtown Saks store had seen minor renovations following the exit of several luxury brand concessions. One of the key changes was Saks moving the women’s footwear department downstairs to the main floor where handbags had been — staff in the store said it was to pair shoes with bags, though it also appears that space is being filled so that areas of the store aren’t empty following the exit of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Saint Laurent boutique concessions.
Several months ago Saks reduced its store hours for its three Canadian stores. The CF Sherway location is now open just six hours a day from noon to 6pm seven days a week. The retail opening hours for the mall are 10am-9pm Monday-Saturday with the mall closing at 6pm on Sundays. It’s unusual for a mall-based store to maintain such reduced hours, even for an anchor store.
In Canada, Saks Fifth Avenue also operates a 115,000 square foot store at CF Chinook Centre in Calgary which opened in February of 2018. That store does not have a food hall component and its opening hours are now reduced the same as at Saks CF Sherway Gardens.
We’ll follow up on more news about Saks Fifth Avenue in Canada as more information is said to be coming out in the weeks ahead.