Elmhurst Mariano's is Starting to Take Shape

What is the magic in the mix that has residents almost giddy over the new store opening?

From a quick glance at the comments on Mariano's Facebook page just in the past week, it's clear this grocer must be doing something right. Nearly 15,000 people follow Mariano's on Facebook, just eating up the many posts about new store openings, food and wine specialties, holiday delicacies and in-store classes and events.

"I love your store!!! Have you looked at opening in Lindenhurst??? Would love, love it and I wouldn't have to drive to Vernon Hills," one commenter said on Monday.

"Just discovered Mariano's—BEST STORE EVER," another said Sunday.

Basically, "we need a Mariano's in _______, PLEASE," is the theme.

Most Elmhurst residents also feel they have struck gold, with a store scheduled to open here this spring. Even when Patch published early rumors of the store's opening a year and a half ago, word spread quickly through town.

Now that it's getting closer to reality, one Facebook commenter this week wrote: "We are all dying for it to open! It will be so awesome to have a Mariano's close to home!! It's my favorite market by far."

What is this Magic?

What is it that makes residents feel they have won the lottery when a Mariano's comes to town?

It seems to all start with founder and Chicago native Bob Mariano. The city of Elmhurst courted him for more than two years in order to bring this store to town, according to former Mayor Pete DiCianni.

A lengthy article in the Chicago Tribune Monday paints a picture of a humble man who rose up through the ranks in the grocery industry by working in every area of Dominick's. In fact, Dominick's founder, Dominick DeMatteo, was his mentor.

Read the Chicago Tribune profile of Bob Mariano here.

Dominick's current corporate structure—it's now owned by Safeway—is a far cry from its family-run beginnings, where Mariano worked every job from dairy to deli, and ultimately president and CEO. He carries a million little lessons—and some big ones—from decades in the grocery industry into every Mariano's he opens.

He wants his stores to be "the Nordstrom of the grocery world," he told The Tribune.

Mariano's childhood, his family, his professional ascent and his business philosophy all ultimately are reflected in the character of his stores. In the article, Mariano is quick with a colorful anecdote and lessons of early failures, management style and the importance of giving back.

How Much Longer?

An exact opening date for the Elmhurst store is not known, but Acting Mayor Scott Levin, in his State of the City address last month hinted at April or May.

The building at York and Industrial Drive in Elmhurst, where Mariano's broke ground on Oct. 12 last year, is starting to take shape. Eager residents who have been traveling all the way to Arlington Heights to get their Mariano's fix, can now almost imagine pushing their carts through aisles of bakery, meat, produce, frozen, specialty and prepared items, or sitting down in the café, or bellying up to the gelato bar.

The store, one of 20 the company is opening in the Chicago area this year, is expected to provide 450 local jobs.

When Mariano came to Elmhurst to introduce himself last March, he told a crowd of city officials and media representatives, "I've always seen myself simply as a grocer."

But he made a promise.

"I assure you that the store we put here will absolutely wow you," he said.

It won't be long now.

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Ercie Berwick February 15, 2013 at 04:50 AM
I give up posting here. I keep being rejected, and it's a waste of my time.
8675309 February 15, 2013 at 02:44 PM
LOVE Aldi's!
8675309 February 15, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Not to mention that it takes FOREVER (most days during the times I could shop) to get from south Elmhurst to north Elmhurst. May seem silly to some, but it's just not worth my time.
8675309 February 15, 2013 at 02:54 PM
another Lincoln parent does mention that- But I agree with them. Unfortunately in these economic times you do what you have to do to save your family money and get by on your budget. Sometimes, there is just no way around it. You only have the money you have, and that's that.
Ken February 15, 2013 at 06:43 PM
They're not taking applications yet. They have a banner on site saying they will be setting up to take applications there sometime in the future.
Ken February 15, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Walmart is a hassle getting in and out of, doesn't have the selections of a traditional grocery store and (in Northlake anyway) caters more to minority tastes.
Doremus Jessup February 15, 2013 at 06:53 PM
I saw Meatheads is hiring on Craigslist Jobs,they will be opening at the old Frescoes site.
8675309 February 15, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Don't go to the one in Northlake- that store is NASTY! And the one on 83 now is a Super Walmart, you can find pretty much everything. Bakery, deli, produce and even more general food choices now.
8675309 February 15, 2013 at 06:59 PM
And they are open 24 hours which makes it more convenient for those of us who are already strapped for time during "normal" shopping hours.
PJC February 15, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Maybe my dream will come true one day (but I'm not holding my breath): uptown Jewel moves out and Trader Joe's moves in....ahhhh!
Janet Retzer February 16, 2013 at 01:23 PM
I think Mariano's should open a store in Western Springs! Perfect location is where the empty building is standing on the corner of Wolf and south of the tracks. I am sure the people would all love that. We all miss having a grocery store there. We are more than ready for Mariano's!!! I have been to the one downtown and it is great!
Jim Court February 16, 2013 at 02:14 PM
All grocery stores serve different demographics and often serve local needs as well as niche shoppers from elsewhere. Some people are willing to travel, some prefer the accessible and convenience of local grocers. What a highly competitive and brutal business to be in. There are so many places to buy groceries and each community has only so many dollars that can be applied to the purchase of groceries. The biggest benefit to specialized and unique stores is the draw from outside the community that increases local tax revenues. I often shop at our local downtown Jewel for many reasons. I would never consider Jewel a destination grocery chain that would compel me to travel to say Wheaton yet I do travel to Wheaton to shop Trader Joes . Marianos hopefully does this although the location makes me wonder if surrounding communities will shop in numbers sufficient to support sales revenue. If a store was located in Westmont it would get some local buyers but even more importantly it could heavily lean on surrounding communities. We have the opposite situation. Markets will play out in due time. I wish everyone of the grocers success. Hopefully the new Marianos can be a driver to the success of the north side of Elmhurst. Elmhurst is a great community that is supported by a perfect location. All of the new homes are a very positive indicator and help support future tax revenues. The expressway access is wonderful for many businesses, will it help Marianos? I wonder.Time will tell.
Alyssa I. February 25, 2013 at 03:21 AM
My dream as well! However, the space is far too large for Trader Joe's. But, I suppose a space can always be split in half! Driving out to Glen Ellyn or LaGrange is just too hard. I bet Trader Joes would do so well in Elmhurst.
Ercie Berwick April 15, 2013 at 10:49 PM
I find Jewel on Schiller Road employes very helpful and courteous employees, but their prices are obscene! And I dislike all their signs containing false advertising, "YA GOTTA LOVE LOW PRICES." Try buying a week's worth of groceries for a family of four, and you won't their prices are all that "low." False advertising to deliberately trap the unsuspecting customer. I would like it very much if Jewel were to close down and an Aldi's were to go up. I can dream, can't I?
Char April 16, 2013 at 09:53 AM
All I have to say is HOORAY for Mariano's !!!! So glad one is being built closer to home. I always stop at the one located on western avenue in Chicago when I pick up my son from visiting his dad every other weekend. I like elmhurst Dominick's but there are never enough cashiers on duty- even on holidays. The villa park jewel is small and depressing. And don't even get me started on the staff at the route 83 walmart!!!! They are the most rude, unorganized, useless, and lazy bunch of individuals on this earth! So I am patiently awaiting the opening of Mariano's to save me from grocery store grief by giving me a clean, well stocked store with helpful and knowledgable staff . All I need now is a whole foods closer to home and I'll be living a dream!
Ken April 16, 2013 at 01:04 PM
The new ownership of Jewel will initiate a whole new price structure and buying procedure by the end of the month. You will see a big difference at that time. Aldi's? Are you kidding me? No name brands, miniscule produce department and a 25 cent fee to use a shopping cart?
Elle M April 16, 2013 at 01:24 PM
I agree with Ken. Aldi's should not charge a shopping cart fee. elle
Ercie Berwick April 16, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Ken and Elle: Are you aware that there is no charge whatsoever for using Aldi's shopping carts? You ALWAYS get your quarter back when you return the cart to its rightful place. Often, after I have finished emptying my cart and there is a customer getting out of his/her car, that person will offer me a quarter and I turn my cart over to them and that's when I don't have to push the cart back into place. Now how do you figure that constitutes a charge for the use of an Aldi's cart? I'm not a genius when it comes to math, but I know for sure that the use of an Aldi's cart doesn't cost you a penny,unless you leave it in the middle of the parking lot with your quarter still inside the slot, and I have never seen any customer do that.
Cal Winters April 16, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Ercie Berwick - we don't need, nor want, an Aldi in Elmhurst. It's bad enough that we have a pawn shop in town. A quick search online shows that there are Aldi's in Villa Park (2), Northlake, Bellwood and Melrose Park. All are within 5 miles. Drive there to shop.
Mike Worrell April 16, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Hear, hear!
Ken April 16, 2013 at 09:19 PM
I only went to Aldi's once---walked out without buying a thing. I didn't know you get your quarter back but still---what an inconvenience! What if you need change for the cart? You have to go inside and wait for the cashier to give you change then go back out to get the cart? The selections are pitiful. I needed two tomatoes but you can only buy them by the bag! Not one brand name in the whote place. An Aldi's in Elmhurst would mean our town is becoming a slum.
Ercie Berwick April 17, 2013 at 12:14 AM
Ken, it seems I have more knowledge regarding Aldi's than you. I have been patronizing Aldi's for years, whereas you said you went there just once. The quarter should not present a challenge. Regular Aldi's customers keep a quarter in one of the sections in their car tray and just pick it up before they leave the car. I'm sure you have change available when you go through a toll booth. Same principle. You make it sound hard, which it isn't. As for the selections, they are not pitiful at all. Aldi's is always well stocked with the finest produce, meats, etc. And where is it written that you have to buy a "brand" name in order to get quality? Aldi's meat far surpasses ANY meat one can buy at a Jewel. Their center cut pork chops are always very fresh and melt in your mouth; Jewel's are like shoe leather. I ought to know; I have had experience with both. I don't understand why you feel that having an Aldi's in Elmhurst would mean our town is becoming a slum. Alcohol, drugs, theft, etc. make it a "slum," not having an Aldi's in town. I have a friend whose husband is a multi-millionaire. She can afford to shop anywhere she wishes, but she almost always shops at Aldi's. She is a very down-to-earth, sensible person. She says she just can't see any reason for over-spending at Jewel or Dominick's when she can get as good quality, or better, at Aldi's. You sound like a single fellow, in which case I would agree that Aldi's is most definitely not for you.
chucky April 17, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Actually, Don't give out the secret shopping store, Aldi's. We really don't need any more shopping there...It's crowded enough already!!!!
CheKeroauc April 17, 2013 at 03:32 PM
If Aldi's is crowded then it is a sign that our economy is still struggling. People are sacrificing quality and service for price.
Ercie Berwick April 17, 2013 at 04:00 PM
There is no better quality or service than the Aldi's I shop at! And I have found the same to be true when I have been on the road and stopped at other Aldi's here and there. Fine quality, the price is right, and the personnel are quick and courteous. Unless one is an Aldi's customer, I doubt that one is qualified to comment on one single negative of shopping at Aldi's.
Ercie Berwick April 18, 2013 at 03:36 AM
I assume that you know by now, after reading my comment farther below, that Aldi's doesn't charge a penny for a shopping cart fee. Not a single penny!
Ercie Berwick April 18, 2013 at 04:16 AM
It depends on when you go, just like any other supermarket. The only difference is that at Aldi's they don't make you wait and wait and wait an eternity with dozens of people waiting to get checked out and only a couple of checkouts available, as is often the case at Jewel. Aldi's checkers are very highly trained, and they also have to check out the items of each customer in record time; I have never seen such fast checkesr in any other supermarket. One of them told me they are expected to have a customer's groceries tallied (no matter how many groceries he/she has) in X number of minutes, no exceptions. They are all like the speed of lightning. I have been a loyal customer of Aldi's for years; nobody can say anything negative about Aldi's to try to convince me to take my business elsewhere. I can buy groceries there for a week and a half for, say, $60. I would have to spend at least $85 or more for the same groceries for the same length of time at the Jewel. So, for me, a savings each week and a half of $25 or more is not bad. Why would I spend more money at the Jewel when I can spend less at Aldi's?
Citizen May 25, 2013 at 05:01 PM
After Mariano's opens, maybe the huge business they do will open the eyes of Trader Joes ( owned by ALDI'S by the way) to believe Elmhurst residents have enough of a gourmet taste to support one of their stores. Dominicks and Jewel owned the market for a long long time and forgot the CUSTOMER comes first! Bob Mariano ran Dominick's back when all the people thought it was a great store. Now you'll get a chance to see a true high end grocery store deidicated to quality, freshness and service. Any doubts there are already enough locations to go and check them out. Harwood Hieghts opened 6 weeks ago and the crowds haven't stopped yet. They must be doing something right..Mariano's at one location will do as much business as the Jewel in town ( terrible store) and Dominick's. Please don't think that Safeway (Dominick's) or the real estate investment group (Jewel) will be care enough.
Bill Stigler June 25, 2013 at 06:25 AM
I have several posts I want to add to this thread. But first, does any one know how to keep the posting software from swallowing my paragraph marks? Also, is it possible to post in reply to another post so that your post will show up underneath it (usually indented)?
Ercie Berwick June 26, 2013 at 12:36 AM
I don't like this new format at all. Wonder who dreamed it up? ;(


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