Farmers Pride debuted its "Beer Cave" last week. [Photo by Ryan Moore Photography]
WEST TOWN — A neighborhood grocery store and butcher that long predated a nearby Mariano's and its predecessor, Dominick's, has added beer and wine to its offerings.
But there is no dedicated spot on the main selling floor, so Farmers Pride customers can follow the neon lights next to the cheese and walk through plastic panels to enter the department, stocked with over 200 varieties and sizes of beer from Budweiser to Revolution.
"We're calling it the beer cave, it's a nice little spot with a variety of wine. We keep it away from the groceries and haven't even put signs up in the windows and don't plan to do any of that. This is honest to God an addition for our customers only," said Roddy Hashish, the grocer's general manager.
Along the Ukrainian Village and Humboldt Park border, Farmers Pride at 756 N. Western Ave. officially opened its beer cave for business last Friday and the response in just the first few days has been "huge," Hashish said on Wednesday.
"They are happy to do their shopping as a one-stop shop. We have always been noticing customers coming in with bags of beer from CVS or from the liquor store down the street, or we run into our own customers when we are at CVS buying beer [for] ourselves, so we wanted to bring it in here," he said.
Alisa Hauser says owners were consistently asked if they had beer:
Hashish said he started thinking about offering beer and wine when Dominick's shuttered in 2013 and Farmers Pride, like many other small neighborhood grocers, saw a surge in business.
Though about two-thirds of the customers who came in from the shuttered Dominick's transferred their business to the new Mariano's when it opened last spring, but Hashish said about a third continue to frequent Farmers Pride.
"The Dominick's closing helped us to think about turning into a full-fledged grocery store," he said.
Just outside of the beer cave, on a shelf along a wall, Farmers Pride now also carries 175 different wines, including Ménage a Trois, Apothic and Underwood.
Spirits are only added to the inventory by request. Bulleit bourbon, Jameson whiskey and Tito's vodka have all been requested by customers, Hashish said.
Farmers Pride will not be adding any "40s," or cheap 40-ounce single serve beer cans to its cave, though.
"We do not want to attract the wrong crowd," Hashish said.
Roddy Hashish in the "Beer Cave." [Photo by Ryan Moore Photography]
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