On February 25, Mariano’s Northfield opened its doors, and the North Shore breathed a sigh of relief…and welcome.
And while this store, installed in the shell of the old Dominick’s #62, differs from the standard Mariano’s in some ways, the Mariano’s crew was determined to get the store open to serve the Northfield, Winnetka and Northbrook crowds pining for their late, lamented Dominick’s.
The first Dominick’s-to-Mariano’s conversion opened earlier this month in Park Ridge, and nine more will follow this spring. In addition, brand new stores, built from ground-up to be Mariano’s markets, will open in Glenview (later this year) and Northbrook (2015).
Bob Mariano, Chairman and CEO of Wisconsin-based Roundy’s Supermarkets, which owns the Mariano’s chain, learned the industry ropes at Dominick’s, and this is a coming home for him. “We can’t wait for this area to see what we can do,” he told me. “There’s a major remodeling coming in the next few years, but we wanted to get these stores open.”
As time goes on, Mariano shared that they will be adding the grills and other signature services for which his stores are known, but there’s still much to love about this supermarket.
All around the perimeter of the store, you’ll find the features that set Mariano’s markets apart. Take the Juice Bar, where they’ll whip up a fresh Super Kale Fruit or Tropical Green Detox Smoothie (12-ounce/$3.99, 16-ounce/$4.99) for you; or perhaps Vero Coffee Bar, where you can order a latté or a scoop of house-made gelato. You’ll find cheese in abundance (a mountain of Parmesan awaits), and extensive wine and beer selection, including a mix-and-match six-pack program and a well-stocked reserve wine “cave.”
Artisan breads will be baked fresh daily on-site; kids will love to watch the pastry department ice birthday cakes and huge flower-topped cupcakes. They’ll also love the freshly popped corn and the caramel apples made in the middle of the produce section.
The seafood section is chockfull of beautiful fresh fish, all processed in front of you in the store. And then there’s the “36 feet of meat,” according to store director Tony Adelphia. It’s an impressive array of glass-front display counters filled with cuts of prime and grass-fed meats, burgers, meatballs, meatloaf, kabobs and more. Whether you’re looking to “take and bake” or make your own meal from scratch, they’ve got you covered. Can’t find what you need? Let them know and they’ll make it happen. Mariano’s is famous for their impeccable customer service.
Fred Gougler, President of the Village of Northfield, is “thrilled [Mariano’s] got open as quickly as it did. This is going to be great! We’re already looking at parking overflow—we’re anticipating big crowds.”
Mariano is equally effusive about the opening. “We are blessed to have such great people working with us on this project. It takes a partnership and the community has been nothing but awesome. We want the dialogue from our customers; that’s how we continue to be great.”
What is it about the Mariano’s shopping experience that’s so different? In Bob Mariano’s opinion, they’ve “taken what’s normally considered a drudgery and made it fun. Our parking lots are always full because people spend so much time in our stores—sometimes two or three hours, and we’re happy to encourage that.”
Beyond the shopping, Mariano’s has heart. They want to become an integral part of whatever community they join. Even before the store opened, Mariano’s cut a check for $2,500 that was presented to the Northfield Township Food Pantry. They’ve given away almost $7 million to partner communities through their charitable foundation, an impressive number by any standard.
When Dominick’s closed its doors on December 28, many communities, including Northfield, clamored for Mariano’s to step in. Their reputation for responsive service and commitment to quality precedes them. “I’m so excited that they’re finally open near me,” says Northfield resident Kathleen Hogan. A sentiment shared by many, to be sure.