PORTAGE PARK — Family Fruit Market — beloved by many Far Northwest Side residents for its guacamole and fresh salsa — will close after a year-long effort to remake the store and offer more organic food failed, the owner said Monday.
The store at 4118 N. Cicero Ave. as well as its overflow parking lot on the east side of Cicero near Berteau avenue will be sold and redeveloped, owner Ron Presta said.
"Business is still too slow," Presta said. "We got a bump for a couple of months, and then it dropped back to where it was before."
Presta said the sale of both the store — which has been open for 24 years in the Six Corners Shopping District — and its parking lot to a developer could be completed before the end of the month.
"The neighborhood is changing so much," Presta said. "I'm sure they will build something real nice."
Sources with knowledge of the proposal said Starbucks planned to open a coffee shop with a drive-thru lane on what is now the store's parking lot.
Owen Brugh, chief of staff to Ald. John Arena (45th) declined to identify the restaurant interested in the property, saying company officials wanted to wait until the community meeting before revealing their interest. However, it will not be a Dunkin Donuts, he said.
"This company has considered several sites in our community before, and it is good to see a deal come together," Brugh said.
A spokeswoman for Starbucks said Monday the firm had "no additional details to share" about the company's interest in opening a store at Cicero and Berteau avenues.
A meeting about the proposal is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 26 at at the Kilpatrick Renaissance, 4655 W. Berteau Ave. A drive-thru requires special permission from city officials as well as Arena's support.
A little more than a year ago, Starbucks signed a letter of intent to lease a portion of the former Bank of America building at 4901 W. Irving Park Road, but that building is now set to house the first Binny's Beverage Depot on the Far Northwest Side.
Brugh said it was not clear what would replace Family Fruit Market at Cicero and Belle Plaine avenues.
"We are going to do what we can to ensure any project adds to the revitalization of Six Corners," Brugh said.
Arena, who lives in Portage Park and often shops at Family Fruit Market, will be among the many residents mourning the grocery store's closure, Brugh said.
A year ago, rumors began swirling that Family Fruit Market was set to close as its owners weighed an offer to buy the property.
Instead, Presta and his partners came up with a new plan for the store and replaced 50 percent of its stock with healthy, organic and gluten-free food. The store was also renovated.
But after an initial increase in sales and foot traffic, sales dropped and continued to slide, Presta said.
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