MCKINLEY PARK — Mariano’s Fresh Market hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning, with company leaders offering a tour of the new grocery store in the neighborhood.
"I'm going to steal a line from a movie...'You had me at hello,'" Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said to Bob Mariano, founder of the grocery chain that's expanded after the demise of Dominick's Finer Foods stores.
The store, 3145 S. Ashland Ave., opens to the public 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Early Monday, employees offered tours of the 74,000-square-foot building, which retains the layout of the Dominick's it replaced.
Even as Mariano and community leaders heralded the store's planned debut, many workers were hustling to stock the liquor shelves, finish building the walk-in beer cooler and preparing for the arrival of thousands of pounds of produce.
Mariano said the store is about 85 percent complete, with plans to roll out special features, like a sit-down sushi bar, over the course of the year.
"They'll get a good shop in here. It's very reflective of the entire neighborhood...the overall diversity of food available in this store is really remarkable," Mariano said.
Amenities include a grill station for meat and seafood bought in-store, an Italian coffee bar and gelateria, a cafe with free WiFi, grab-and-go soups, sandwiches and pizza, and a gourmet cheese section. More than 200 organic produce options will be available, along with selections from potted herbs at the store's "Fresh Herb Center."
The store also includes a flower shop, bakery, seafood and meat counters — selling house-made Italian sausage — as well as options for catering packages.
Monday's program also included $2,500 donations to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation from Roundy's Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Mariano's corporate parent Roundy's Inc., and to Benton House, a social resource agency based in Bridgeport that hosts a weekly food pantry.
"For a food pantry that distributes 2,500 pounds of food weekly to a growing number of needy families, this is phenomenal for us," said Benton House director Mark Lennon.
The new South Side store, which is set to replace the shuttered Dominick's, will hire about 470 workers, a store manager said, just a fraction of the more than 4,000 who applied for a job there.