GRAND CROSSING —Terri Zhu said it's rare that small, neighborhood stores promote healthy eating that is budget-friendly, but that's what makes Louis' Groceries so different.
The grocery store, which opened in December of 2012, promotes healthy eating to its customers by not only selling fresh vegetables, produce and meats, but also offering free cooking classes inside the 1,821 square-foot store at 7604 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
"Customers will find a lot of healthy products at Louis' Groceries along with some items that are not so healthy," said Zhu, manager of Louis' Groceries. "These days everyone is on a budget and some people think they cannot eat healthy unless they spend a lot of money. We provide free cooking classes to show customers how to fix healthy meals at home without spending lots of money."
Up to 20 people attend classes at the store, which are held the first three Thursdays each month from 2 to 4 p.m. A University of Illinois nutrition educator also visits the store often to show customers how to prepare specific meals.
And starting in October, a six-week cooking class for adults will be offered. The class will be once a week and taught by professional cooks who volunteer because they believe in healthy eating, Zhu said.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) whose ward includes the store said he shops at Louis' Groceries from time to time.
"Louis' Groceries may be small in size but is big when it comes to helping this neighborhood," Sawyer said. "Residents without cars cannot get to full-service grocery stores to buy healthy products, but now they have a store in walking distance that sells healthy items."
Zhu said she is happy that a Whole Foods Market will open in Englewood in 2016.
"As long as Whole Foods lowers its prices I think it will do fine in Englewood. I can see us as a small Whole Foods store for this area," Zhu said. "Although we are much smaller in size and do not carry a larger selection of healthy products like Whole Foods, I think for a neighborhood store we do okay."
The store is located next door to Israel M.C. Church Food Pantry, 7606 S. Cottage Grove Ave., which is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays.
"Being located next to a food pantry has its ups and downs. People tend to go there first to see what foods they can get for free. And then whatever they can't get there they will come here to buy," added Zhu. "We donate food to the pantry too as a way of reaching people who might not have the money to buy fruits and vegetables."
Illinois LINK and credit cards are accepted at the store, which is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. For more on programs at Louis', click here.