SOUTH SHORE — Residents of South Shore are driving out of the neighborhood in search of food after the Dominick’s in Jeffery Plaza closed.
“We don’t have options over here,” said Shauntell Fields, who works at Radio Shack in the shopping center at 71st Street and Jeffery Boulevard. “It’s either you travel, or you don’t eat.”
Safeway Inc. announced in October it would close 72 Dominick’s locations in Illinois, including 15 in Chicago. The South Shore store closed on Dec. 28.
New grocers have snatched up 12 of the Chicago locations, leaving Old Town, Norwood Park, Rogers Park and South Shore as the only neighborhoods without a replacement for Dominick’s.
Henry Porter said he used to do the shopping for his whole family at the South Shore Dominick’s, but now his mother drives to several stores in and around South Shore to get groceries.
“I see my mom come home with bags from all over the place, Meijer, Save-A-Lot,” Porter said.
The closest Meijer to South Shore is eight miles away in suburban Evergreen Park.
South Shore was hard hit by the closure of the Dominick’s. Jewel-Osco, 7530 S. Stony Island Ave., is now the only mid-price grocery store in the most populous neighborhood on the South Side after Auburn Gresham, according to 2010 Census data.
Low-price grocers Save-A-Lot, 7240 S. Stony Island Ave., and Aldi, 7800 S. South Chicago Ave., also serve South Shore.
A survey of 371 South Shore residents conducted in December and January said that more than 70 percent of respondents would rather drive out of the neighborhood to buy food than shop at Save-A-Lot and Aldi.
“I’d rather go across town,” said Lynye McKinnie, who has lived in South Shore for the past two years.
McKinnie said that it’s extremely difficult in South Shore to find the organic food she prefers to give her daughter and she drives to the Whole Foods in the South Loop to shop. She said Dominick’s was not a great option for her, either. She said their high-priced produce was often low quality and the store was slow to remove expired food from its shelves.
McKinnie, a chef at Whole Foods, said she would prefer to see her employer open a location in South Shore.
“We have the Hyde Park and Englewood stores that are kind of in the area, so we haven’t ignored the South Shore area,” said Allison Phelps, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods, citing two locations planned, but not yet built, on the South Side.
Whole Foods is taking over four of the former Dominick’s in Chicago and Mariano’s Fresh Market will take over three former Dominick’s locations in the city.
“I would prefer Mariano’s,” said Kendra Brandshaw, the manager of Villa, a shoes and clothing store in Jeffery Plaza, adding that the store lost business since Dominick’s closed.
Mariano’s led as the first choice for South Shore residents who participated in the survey by the Planning Coalition, a South Shore community group formed to find a replacement for Dominick’s. Residents’ second choice in the survey was Pete’s Fresh Market, a Chicago-based chain with nine locations on the city’s Southwest Side and in the suburbs.
James Hyland, a spokesman for Mariano’s, said he would not speculate on future store locations at this point.
“In regard to our strategy within the city of Chicago, all I can offer is that we do have on-going conversations with the Mayor’s Office,” Hyland said. “However, at this point in time it is premature for anyone to speculate on the locations of future Mariano’s stores within the city of Chicago.”
South Shore residents outside of the shuttered Dominick’s said they weren't thrilled with the store when it was open, but would like to see something new open in the space.
“Something is better than nothing right now,” Fields said while looking out at the largely empty parking lot.
The 15 Dominick’s in Chicago that closed are:
• Greektown, 1 N. Halsted St., converting to Whole Foods
• Streeterville, 255 E. Grand Ave., converting to Whole Foods
• Edgewater, 6009 N. Broadway Ave., converting to Whole Foods
• Lincoln Park, 959 W. Fullerton Ave., converting to Whole Foods
• McKinley Park, 3145 S. Ashland Ave., converting to Mariano’s Fresh Market
• Ukrainian Village, 2021 W. Chicago Ave., converting to Mariano’s Fresh Market
• Edgewater, 5201 N. Sheridan Road, converting to Mariano’s Fresh Market
• South Loop, 1340 S. Canal St., converting to a Jewel-Osco
• Lincoln Park, 2550 N. Clybourn Ave., converting to a Jewel Osco
• Lincoln Square, 5233 N. Lincoln Ave., converting to a Tony’s Finer Foods
• Rogers Park, 6623 N. Damen Ave., converting to a Cermak Fresh Market
• Rogers Park, 763 W. Howard St., no tenant identified
• Old Town, 424 W. Division St., no tenant identified
• South Shore, 2101 E. 71st St., no tenant identified
• Norwood Park, 6312 N. Nagle Ave., no tenant identified