The city of Elmhurst has been courting Bob Mariano for two years now, and that courtship has finally resulted in a marriage.
"When I ran for mayor, I talked about trying to recruit destination retailers like a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or Costco. With this concept, Mariano's, we have found all three in one," said Mayor Pete DiCianni during a press conference Friday to officially announce .
Located at the old Ford dealership at North York and Industrial Drive, the Elmhurst store is one of 20 locations planned for Mariano's, part of the Roundy's chain of supermarkets. Other stores are open on East Benton Place and at Western and Roscoe in Chicago, and in Palatine, Vernon Hills and Arlington Heights.
"We will be pulling (customers) from communities all over DuPage County," DiCianni said. "Bloomingdale, Hinsdale and Oak Brook, probably as far east as Elmwood Park, because this concept is something very unique."
DiCianni said Mariano's has "the finest of grocery items, finest of boutique items, the deli is unique. Being Italian and Irish, I appreciate what they bring to this community."
Mariano's stores have gelato, sushi and coffee bars, a salad bar, natural, organic and gluten-free products, bulk foods, full service bakery with authentic Italian pastries, wood stone-fired pizza, imported and domestic deli meats and cheeses, a floral shop, and local and international beers and wines. The stores also have a pharmacy and health and beauty products.
Bob Mariano told the crowd of Elmhurst officials and press that he was "humbled to stand before you, because I've always seen myself simply as a grocer."
"I assure you that the store we put here will absolutely wow you," Mariano said. "It's going to be a place where you're going to want to come frequently, you're going to want to stay and have a cup of coffee, you're going to want to shop and visit with your neighbors. It will be a warm, responsive, enjoyable place and that's what food shopping is all about."
Mariano said the store will be looking to fill between 400 and 450 jobs. The location, which is the farthest west for the chain, is ideally suited for the company because they've already seen many Elmhurst residents traveling to the Arlington Heights store.
"There is a good base of customers here—discriminating shoppers," he said.
When asked what kind of deal was worked out to bring the retailer to Elmhurst, DiCianni said, "We haven't defined anything yet."
"We're actually going to start that process on Monday," he said. "A committee will be looking at the different needs and the different tools we have available to get them across the finish line."
He said that every community Mariano's has gone into has offered some kind of incentive.
"These are tough times," DiCianni said. "This is when government has to work well with business and get the job done."
Aldermen have been discussing , with the North York Road property sitting in one of them.
"When you're looking to re-do a whole corridor, I think that takes some vision," DiCianni said. "We've got (property values) in this area going down, and we're trying to stop that.
"We're sitting in an old, abandon car dealer. We're not going to let our tax base go down."
The store will be 70,000 to 80,000 square feet, a roughly $12 million investment, Mariano said. The store will break ground sometime this summer, and an opening early in 2013 is planned, he said.