ROGERS PARK — For the first time in six months, the parking lot at Rogers Park's biggest retail development was full.
Shoppers swarmed the Gateway Shopping Centre, at 1763 W. Howard St., to attend Tuesday's grand opening of one of Jewel-Osco's newest stores.
The grocer took over the former Dominick's in March.
"They almost had me in tears," said store manager Bill Reckert of the shoppers lined up outside before the grand opening. "It's a great turnout."
The last time so many people shopped there was when Dominick's slashed prices to clear out its stock before it shuttered in December.
The store underwent renovations and rebranding over the past few months, but the store's layout hadn't changed except for the addition of a "community room," which would be available for neighborhood meetings and other events, Reckert said.
Residents were happy to have a full-service grocery store back in Rogers Park.
"It means that we can get quality food and not be [limited] to ethnic grocery stores," said Lorna Barnes, who has lived north of Howard Street for 20 years. "It's good that it's back — And I know everybody here; it's like a big family."
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) greeted customers at the store's front doors Tuesday night, alongside Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk, whom Jewel invited to the festivities.
"I'm thrilled. This place is teeming with people," Moore said. "It's a real example of the community's resiliency."
Moore remembered 20 years ago when Jewel's Morse Avenue store left Rogers Park, which led to the expansion of neighborhood grocery stores such as Morse Market.
Only one former Dominick's store in Chicago remains to be replaced with another grocer.
Moore, who had been appointed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's task force to find Dominick's replacements, said "unique circumstances" have prevented that South Shore store from being reopened.
Earlier this month, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) and city officials said Los Angeles-based property owner Cannon Commercial had been asking for rent 40 percent higher than fair-market value even though four grocers had been interested in the space.
But Cannon CEO Shervin Mateen said he was "shocked" to hear the city's claims, firing back that he wanted to fill the space "as soon as possible at a cost that is justified."
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