UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — News that a Wisconsin-based supermarket chain would be acquiring a Ukrainian Village Dominick's and turning it into a Mariano's Fresh Market was met with excitement by shoppers and uncertainty by employees who will have to re-interview for their jobs.
"It would be a blessing if they keep everybody," said Seddria Dawkins, an Austin resident that has worked behind the deli counter at Dominick's, 2021 W. Chicago Ave. for one year.
Dawkins said she is "happy" that the store will have a new owner and plans to "interview like it's a new job," which she said has been the talk among employees for weeks, since Dominick's parent company Safeway announced in October it would be pulling out of the Chicago market.
Dominick's employees aren't guaranteed a job. A spokesman for Roundy's, the parent company of Mariano's, said Dominick's employees "will still have to be interviewed, hired and trained for new opportunities at Mariano's."
A 58-year-old employee who wished not to be named and was on a break in the store's Starbucks late Monday, said that she went online in October to submit her resume on the Mariano's website.
At that point the news was not officially confirmed, though the employee said she had "a strong feeling" the store would be purchased by Mariano's.
"It's a great location for them, a great neighborhood," she said.
Through the employee, who's worked for Dominick's for 24 years, most recently as a cashier and in customer service, has not heard back about her resume, she believes Mariano's was waiting to see which Dominick's stores they would purchase first.
While the future is uncertain for Dominick's employees, customers such as Jonathan Levy, owner of The Rolling Bean, a traveling espresso and fruit smoothie company, said he was already familiar with Mariano's and was happy to hear the news.
Levy previously lived in Roscoe Village and shopped at a Mariano's there and has only just begun shopping at Dominick's since moving to Ukrainian Village four months ago, he said.
Levy predicted that the transition would be "chaotic" and wondered how long Dominick's, which he considers to be "the only good grocery store" near his home, would be closed as it changes to a Mariano's.
In a conference call Monday, officials from Roundy's said the stores scheduled for conversion to Mariano's will close for up to 45 days. That's when prospective employees can apply online or at forthcoming job fairs.
Sarah Martay, a Wicker Park resident, also expressed excitement about the impending changeover.
"We're really excited to see Mariano's is coming. We've heard a lot of good things about them," Martay said.
Martay said she's been shopping at Dominick's for four years and is "glad it's not a Jewel" that will be taking over the store, in part due to the fact there is already a Jewel in Wicker Park and she feels like Mariano's would have better produce.
For Martay, the only downside would be the uncertainty for employees.
"I hope they will keep a lot of the employees and hope to see familiar faces. Everyone here is very friendly," Martay said.
Meanwhile, neighboring businesses to Dominick's were heralding the entry of Mariano's onto Chicago Avenue as "good for the street."
"We were relieved," said Firas Suqi, a part-time worker at Chickpea, a Middle Eastern restaurant run by his parents at 2018 W. Chicago Ave. directly across from the grocery store.
"An open retail space that large, we were concerned if it were empty, how that could affect everyone around it," Suqi said, adding that his family shops at Dominick's frequently for smaller food items they run out of or don't order from their supplier.