The announcements made in quick succession that the two grocers would be taking over two former Dominick's locations have business leaders and small business owners excited about what they call a booming Edgewater business economy.
"It’s going to be an anchor for Broadway," said the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce's new director, Katrina Balog, of Whole Foods' intentions to open a location at 6009 N. Broadway in 2015. "We’re really excited about that."
Business leaders previously praised the announcedment in December that Mariano's would open at Sheridan Road and Foster Avenue.
Balog said she expects a similar "spillover effect" when Whole Foods opens and attracts thousands of shoppers a day, strengthening businesses nearby and giving prospective business owners one more reason to set down roots in Edgewater.
"For larger and smaller businesses, a well-known and respected name like Whole Foods indicates consumer confidence in the neighborhood," she said.
Scott Crestodina, owner of Independent Spirits Inc., said he has seen fewer people in the area since Broadway's Dominick's closed just down the street from his specialty wine and liquor shop.
His reaction to Whole Foods' announcement?
"Something is better than nothing," he said.
And he said he's not worried about Whole Foods siphoning away his customers.
"This neighborhood has proven that it’s capable of supporting whatever comes," he said, citing strong sales since opening a year ago. "I don’t think people are going to forget the value of independent businesses just because Whole Foods opens up."
Bark Bark Club owner Brian Koester agreed, saying the pet owners who frequent his shop at 5943 N. Broadway mesh well with Whole Foods' clientele.
"This corridor is really turning around, and we’re seeing a lot of solid businesses open up," he said. "I think we’ve hit a nice synergy where things are really starting to roll."
While Dominick's was a big business in the community, "Whole Foods is more of a destination shopping [grocer]. People travel to go to a Whole Foods," Koester said.
Over the last couple of years, dozens of developers and business owners have decided to invest in the neighborhood.
LA Fitness's new gym, opening soon, and Starbucks' new drive-thru location, which opened in October, also show that Edgewater is quickly becoming an economic destination for well-known brands.
Broadway has been booming with other new businesses, including a new Walgreens, 63 Bar and Grill, Mexican restaurant Mas Alla del Sol, soon-to-open Pearl's barbecue and Cookies and Carnitas, which opened in December.
Earlier this month, the broker for the commercial space formerly home to St. Andrew's Inn, at 5938 N. Broadway, announced a promising restaurant and bar operator planned to launch a new venture there by summertime.
"There’s definitely something positive going on in this North Broadway corridor, Koester said.
Tina Travlos Nihlean, president of the Edgewater Development Corporation, called Mariano's plans to open at the former Dominick's at Sheridan Road and Foster Avenue a validation of Edgewater's business prowess.
"You have our neighborhood of Edgewater that has all the basics in place to support a quality retailer and you had a willing seller, in Dominick’s, and the right amount of available square footage for Mariano's and Whole Foods to make the Edgewater choice a good one," she said. "It takes many decades to put all those pieces in place, and that’s what was happening in Edgewater — that’s why it wasn’t a surprise.
"When you start looking at all that, are you really surprised?”