Foxtrot abruptly closes all locations, shocking staff and customers

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Foxtrot, which appeared to be a booming high-end coffee shop and convenience store chain expanding throughout the D.C. region, on Tuesday permanently shuttered its black-and-white doors — shocking employees and drawing crowds of stunned customers to the locked storefronts.

The news came less than six months after Foxtrot announced a merger with Dom’s Kitchen & Market, a boutique grocery store with two locations in Chicago. The parent company said on X and in an email to members and employees midday Tuesday that its leadership had “explored many avenues to continue the business but found no viable option despite good faith and exhaustive efforts.”

Foxtrot started in 2014 as a delivery service for fine food and alcohol before opening its first bricks-and-mortar location in Chicago two years later. Its business boomed during the pandemic, and in 2022 it announced that it had raised $160 million in funding, according to a company news release.

The chain — with its gourmet snacks, coffee bar and small selection of freshly made food — appeared to be flourishing in the affluent Washington region, with its fast-paced, health-obsessed, wine-loving circles. Foxtrot had 10 storefronts in the D.C. area, including locations in Logan Circle, Rosslyn and Bethesda, as well as 23 others in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. One store in Adams Morgan had just opened in January.

Baristas were formally notified about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday that it was their last day of work, according to an email and FAQ reviewed by The Washington Post. They will be paid only for shifts through the end of the day, and their health benefits will end in a week.

Representatives from Foxtrot, Dom’s and parent company Outfox did not respond to requests for comment.

In the East Lakeview area of Chicago, Julia Harlos, 23, reported for work at 6 a.m. She wiped down the coffee bar. She made a latte for one of her regular customers. She caught up with her co-workers, whom she had become friends with over the last six months of her job.

In D.C., business was similarly normal. Baristas in Dupont Circle served Americanos and premade breakfast tacos, and dogs snagged treats from the clear bins. At the Logan Circle location, fliers advertised an event Wednesday evening celebrating a newly constructed patio, with RSVPs required.

Harlos’s first sign that something was amiss came when her shift leader said they were out of bakery items and was not sure when a new shipment would arrive.

Then, about 9:30 a.m., Harlos said, a man who worked for Foxtrot’s corporate headquarters showed up and bought $500 worth of groceries. “I’m using up all my credits,” she said he told her.

About 10 a.m., a customer called to ask if it would be open until noon. Harlos remembered replying, “Yes, as far as we know.” Then she hung up and typed “foxtrot news” into her phone and saw an article saying that her store had ceased operations.

It was 10:07 a.m. in what should have been her first of five shifts this week, where she would earn $16 an hour, plus tips — enough to help her pay rent while she pursues a career as an actress.

Her assistant manager called her shift leader and confirmed the news.

One of her co-workers started to cry. Harlos was stunned. And then, seven minutes later, she started recording what would become a viral video on TikTok.

“We just found out our store is closing today at 12,” she said to the camera. “And by closing, I mean the entire chain shutting down. And I have three more hours on my shift.”

She turned the camera to show about 10 customers sitting at tables with cups of coffee, typing on their laptops. “What do we tell them?”

Her assistant manager told her and her co-workers to close the store as quickly as possible. Harlos then continued filming. Her shift leader wrote “closed for good” on a piece of paper and taped it to the front door. She made one last latte for a regular customer.

Others were similarly taken aback by the sudden closure. Some small-business owners who depended on Foxtrot to sell their products said they too had learned online of the collapse. An owner of frozen cookie dough brand Hot Take Dough said she had flown to Chicago on Monday to see her product in the store, only to learn Tuesday from Instagram that the shop was closing. “I have no idea what’s going on,” she said on TikTok.

By early afternoon, most if not all locations in D.C. and across the country were locked, with signs taped to the windows. A downtown D.C. location had a sign that said, “As of today, we are closed for the final time. Thank you for the time we had together.” The patio flier at Logan Circle was replaced by a sign that said, “CLOSED DUE TO INTERNAL REPAIRS.”

One by one over the next few minutes, eight people tried to open the locked door, peered inside the windows to the dark and empty store, and took a photo of the “internal repairs” sign. One woman turned to her friend and said, “everyone is freaking out about the chain’s closure.”

“They just posted online that they’re shutting locations,” Jeremy Paul, 41, said to one of those people. “So I came to see for myself.”

Paul, who particularly appreciated the store’s gluten-free offerings, had also come to check out rumors that Foxtrot employees were handing out free wine.

But at 2 p.m., all he found was a deserted building, with bags of $6.99 candy untouched behind glass windows.

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