Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Empty Shell of Gooding's

All photos courtesy of Reviewer Jay

     As was previously reported, the last Gooding's store closed for good back in May 2020. While the last Gooding's was living on borrowed time due to an upcoming highway project that would reconfigure the interchange between Route 535 and Interstate 4, the pandemic claimed the fate of this Floridian supermarket holdout before the Department of Transportation could. As we learned in our original coverage of this store, the last Gooding's was a store catering primarily to tourists. When the pandemic hit, Orlando's tourism industry went into a freefall. With Gooding's customer base drying up amid warnings not to travel, the store couldn't support itself. Since the last Gooding's was going to succumb to the highway project anyway, the store called it quits early, ending Gooding's sad story and fall from grace. While the last Gooding's was a shell of its former self, it's sad to know the chain is officially dead now.

     Today we'll be taking a quick look at the former Lake Buena Vista Gooding's thanks to some photos sent in by contributor Reviewer Jay. These photos are a sad look at this once bustling supermarket and accompanying shopping center, which is now a ghost town not only because of the pandemic, but because of all the businesses closing up shop as the beginning of the highway project nears.

     With the building scheduled to come down, Gooding's began to stop caring about making repairs to the place (although repairs never seemed to be much of a priority even in the years prior to the demolition announcement). The above photo shows some of the wood rot and other wear on the building's facade that has begun to show, which is more visible when you click on the above photo and zoom in.

     More wood rot is visible here, as we look up toward the cupola on the roof. This building has a really classy look to it with all the ornate exterior details (like the cupola), a throwback to the days when Gooding's was one of the classiest supermarkets in town.

     Turning our attention to the interior of the former Gooding's, we see lots of fixtures clustered together, all of them sitting empty. I don't quite know how the closing of this store was handled, as it didn't get any attention until the place was locked up for good. I don't know if there was a closing sale, if Gooding's just stopped taking in new merchandise and let the stock slowly dwindle on its own, or if management just locked the doors one day and never reopened them. If anyone was in the area at the time and knows what happened as the store entered its final weeks, be sure to let us know in the comments. Anyway, I really think had the pandemic not happened, Gooding's would have stuck it out much longer than May 2020, as I believe the tenants of the plaza had until sometime in 2021 to vacate before FDOT began demolition.

     Moving to the other set of doors, here are a few photos looking toward the grocery aisles, the frozen foods department located straight ahead. The old check lanes can be seen in front of that, with a small office to the right of the image.

     Panning further to the left, we see more grocery aisles. The far left side of the store was home to health and beauty products in a small alcove, as well as the tourist/gift shop type stuff and alcohol - some of the more popular departments when it comes to supermarkets in the tourist district (especially the alcohol - that stuff sells really well in this part of town, as I believe it takes a few beers to get the song "It's a Small World" out of your head!).

     Our final photo of the interior is zoomed into some of the shopping carts lined up in front of the former check lanes. While Gooding's had shifted to rarely using their own name on much of anything in the later years (even using generic "Thank You" bags at checkout), the carts actually have "Gooding's" etched into the handles. It also looks like a Winn-Dixie cart rolled its way down the road and wound up here at Gooding's too, that lone black cart parked next to the Gooding's ones.

     We'll finish off this post with a few additional photos Reviewer Jay took around the rest of The Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista shopping center. Another popular feature of the plaza was its fountain, which sadly, is now turned off for good.

     Besides Gooding's, almost all the other tenants at The Crossroads were chain restaurants, a good chunk of which decided to permanently close this spring from the sudden drop in business caused by the pandemic (well, that on top of the plaza's impending demolition). It's especially sad to see all of these restaurants close, as I've been told that many of these restaurants at The Crossroads were top performing locations for most of these chains. Tourists don't do a lot of cooking, so these restaurants were always busy. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like many have plans to relocate elsewhere in the area. There isn't much room left to build in the area immediately surrounding The Crossroads, so if these restaurants chose to relocate, it would have to be much further out from here. What made this location so good was that is was across the street from a number of resorts on Disney property, as well as the main road to the Disney Springs shopping area. This was prime real estate, all of which is going to be wasted for a giant pond and a flyover ramp. 

     Like we saw over at Gooding's, the exterior of the former T.G.I. Friday's was looking a bit weathered too.

     Peeking inside the old T.G.I. Friday's, the restaurant's original plans were laid out on a table just inside the window, sadly for demolition prepping purposes if I had to guess.

     Sweet Tomatoes was another restaurant tenant at The Crossroads. However, unlike the other restaurants here, Sweet Tomatoes (and sister chain Souplantation) went out of business entirely because of the pandemic (making the "temporarily closed" sign taped to the window a bit of a lie in the end). I liked Sweet Tomatoes, so it was sad to see the entire chain go under because of all the craziness of 2020.

     The theme continues over at Moe's too, this sign direction patrons to another location about 5 miles away.

     "Welcome to Moe's!" no more.

     Tom + Chee was closed up and papered over too. I've never heard of Tom + Chee, but according to Google, it's a chain of gourmet grilled cheese restaurants, this appearing to be the only one to ever operate in Florida (with most of the chain's locations appearing to be clustered around Cincinnati, OH, with a few others scattered about).

     I don't quite know what storefront this was looking into, but it appears to be one of the few non-restaurant tenants the plaza had. Like everything else though, this is closed too.

     While the Gooding's building and the rest of The Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista still stands for now, this photo will serve as a reminder of what will eventually become of the rest of the buildings sitting on this lot. Pictured here is the former Radisson hotel, which sits right next to the interchange between Interstate 4 and Route 535. Demolition of the hotel has already begun as of November 2020, the first of the buildings on the property to come down in preparation of the new interchange. It looks like the inside of the old Radisson has been completely gutted, with the rest of the structure to fall soon (if it hasn't already).

     As the changes over here continue, we'll probably see more of The Crossroads on the blog as the redevelopment of this property begins to pick up speed. Thank you to Reviewer Jay for these pictures, and remember to come back next week for my final blog post of the year!

So until next time,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger


  1. I suppose everything in this plaza was going to meet its fate eventually, but it's still sad that the pandemic accelerated all of the closures here. However, I guess the impending demolition at least softens the blow a little bit, as the way things are going these businesses probably would never have been able to recover anyway. The real shame is the whole interstate project in general, with all the high-performing locations forced to give up operating in this prime area. Oh well, I guess :( Gooding's, of course, is a bit of a different story, given its downfall and whatnot, but still unfortunate to see how its ultimate demise played out as well, their legacy quietly slipping into oblivion (perhaps even more quietly than it would have under the originally planned circumstances). Great to see these update photos, such as they are, from Reviewer Jay.

    1. It's very much a sad situation here, with the pandemic making the sad situation even worse. Once things start to pick up again around here, it’s going to be a huge loss having all these restaurants, and even Gooding’s, close. If nothing else, I’d like to see the restaurant tenants find new locations elsewhere in the area, even if the locations are further away in the new developments happening by the outlet mall on the other side of the interstate. It was a nice, if not bittersweet, look at the plaza in its current state that Reviewer Jay provided for us.

  2. It's sad to see a supermarket with carpeted floors close! Carpeted supermarkets are indeed rare! Aside from this Gooding's (did all Gooding's have carpeting?), the only other supermarket chain I know of that likes to use carpeting is the Lowe's Market chain which mostly operates in New Mexico, west Texas, and some other states in that general part of the country. Lowe's Market is not related to the Lowes Foods chain in North Carolina. The nicest Lowe's Market I ever seen in photos is the Lowe's Signature Market in Alamogardo, NM. While most Lowe's Markets are not very upscale, the Alamogardo Signature store is the definition of upscale. In addition to the wall-to-wall carpeting, the rest of the supermarket is exceptionally nice. The walk-in wine department and the in-store bar are especially nice. The wood-cased end cap freezers in the frozen food department are awesome as well! Simply put, if you have not seen this place, you have to check it out! To me, this is more of a tourist destination than Disney World, lol.


    Albertsons Market is the biggest competitor to Lowe's Market in Alamogardo. They have a very strange sign in their fragrances department at that Albertsons Market. I'm not sure if you've ever seen anything like this before at an Albertsons:

    The White Sands Mall in Alamogardo is very retro as well. It's too bad most of the stores in the photos have probably closed in 2020 if not earlier. At one time, this store had both a Bealls (Stage) and a Burke's Outlet for maximum confusion, lol. Link:

    Back to Gooding's now, the prices there were, well, bananas from what I can tell from the 2017 photos. 99 cents/pound for bananas! That makes Publix at 69 cents/pound look like a bargain! Meanwhile, in Houston, most supermarkets charge 49 cents/pound or less. That Gooding's almost certainly had tourist pricing!

    Did the Gooding's still have a 1 hour photo lab up until the end or was that sign on the outside outdated?

    I didn't realize that Sweet Tomatoes was completely closed. We had some locations of that here in Houston. I never ate there though. That Radisson looks nice. It's a shame a hotel like that had to come down, but I suspect there is no shortage of hotel rooms in Orlando, lol.

    1. Whoops, sorry, I mean to say Alamogordo, not Alamogardo.

    2. Based on the condition of the carpeting inside this Gooding’s, there’s probably a reason carpet in a supermarket is rare – the carpet was in awful shape! Besides Gooding’s (and the Lowe’s Market you linked to) I can’t think of any other carpeted grocery stores out there. At least in the case of Lowe’s Market, their carpet looks to be in decent shape, although it’s still an odd sight (the carpet in Lowe’s Market looks like something a bookstore would use rather than a grocery store). Still though, the Lowe’s Signature Market is quite the fancy store, more in-line with what Gooding’s was in its prime. That wine department is indeed impressive! I’d visit that store over Disney World any day! :)

      I’ve always found Albertsons Market to be odd – it’s a part of Albertsons, but it’s not the actual Albertsons itself (as the semi-autonomous United division runs those stores). The Florida Albertsons stores were officially a part of Albertsons Market until the two halves of Albertsons reunited in the early 2010s, although Albertsons (for whatever reason) kept the name for those New Mexico stores. As for that fragrances sign, it sounds like Albertsons Market stole one of Ollie’s pun writers for that one! (A scentsable decision, if so!) Alamogordo sure seems like an interesting place for retail, especially with that retro little mall too. It was probably quite rare for the two Bealls stores to overlap like that, although now that Bealls Florida owns the rights to all of Stage’s IP, there’s a slim chance the Bealls name could return to White Sands Mall depending on what Bealls Florida wants to do with it.

      Yes – Gooding’s pricing was outrageous back in 2017, and probably was the same until the store closed. A long time ago Gooding’s was considered pricey because it was an upmarket store, but now that was all because this place was a tourist trap. If you venture out just a little further from this old Gooding’s, you’ll find a Publix, recently remodeled Winn-Dixie, Target, and an Aldi on the way, all of which are probably more economical choices for tourists who want to buy groceries. I’ve been in the Winn-Dixie up the road from here, and the prices are in-line with Winn-Dixies everywhere else (as not only does that store serve the tourist area, but also the neighborhoods up the road). The 1 Hour Photo sign on the outside was outdated, as was the one for the pharmacy – the store offered neither service anymore, and probably hasn’t in years.

  3. It made me mad when I first heard the news that this shopping center was going to be demolished for road construction. I get that traffic going through that area was a nightmare pre pandemic and even now is not great, but I think you even mentioned in a previous post that there were other options. I guess the one consolation I can take from this is that with the pandemic hitting tourism as it has, some of those places probably would have had to close anyway, but it still stinks.

    I always thought that was a really cool looking Shopping Center. The buildings had character, there was a variety of stores and restaurants, and there were out of town chains represented that you couldn't find anywhere else in Florida. I'm very sad to see it all closed up now.

    As far as Tom+Chee, they actually had a location in St Petersburg a few years ago. I don't know what happened to them, but there was a different restaurant in the space last time I was in the area.

    1. I’m still a bit salty about the whole situation that’s happened here at The Crossroads too. I still think it’s completely unnecessary to wipe out the entire plaza, as there were options to upgrade the interchange that left everything around it as-is, or only effected the business that bumped right up against I-4. Even in the rest of the I-4 Ultimate project through the heart of Orlando, none of the interchange upgrades wiped out this much land, and the other 3 quadrants at this interchange will be left mostly unscathed by the construction. Even though the pandemic probably would have taken out of few of these restaurants without the road project, the plaza would have bounced back, and something would have taken over those spaces.

      Yes, the design of this plaza was very unique, the brick colonial aesthetic not all too common around here. There was a lot of detail incorporated into the design, so it will be sad to see it all come down. That’s interesting to hear Tom+Chee was in St. Pete as well (I didn’t think to search for other former locations). Tom+Chee was certainly one of those rare to Florida chains we lost out of this situation too.

  4. I counted eight checkout lanes in this picture after this store closed. Probably at one time this store was extremely busy? I wonder if they will do a fixture sale so the blog can get some interior pictures of the store being closed but before it is bulldozed for the ramp. I hope the blog could get some pictures of the old pharmacy/seafood/photo department.

    1. Being the closest grocery store to Disney property, I’d imagine this store did some decent sales, even after this place became a tourist trap. I was only ever in this store once, and it was during an off-peak weekday afternoon, but I’m sure this store did some good business during peak times (which is why it held out for so long). It would be interesting to see this place during a fixtures auction, seeing what hidden relics from the store’s glory days are hiding inside. I’ll have to keep an eye out to see of an auction does happen here, as that would be an interesting experience.