A much-anticipated new Mariano's Fresh Market opened in Hoffman Estates Tuesday morning.
People from all over the Northwest suburbs milled around the 72,650-square-foot store on opening day, checking out prices, trying food samples or just getting some shopping done.
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Mariano's offers nutrition scoring systemBesides unusual departments and foods -- like a specialty cheese shop and pizzas fired in an imported Italian oven -- Mariano's Fresh Markets offers shoppers a relatively new form of nutrition information.
Mariano's and Meijer are the only two grocery chains in the area to offer NuVal, a food scoring system that ranks products' nutritious value on a scale of 1 to 100.
A quick glance to a shelf tag next to an item's price will give shoppers an idea of how it compares to similar items. For example, the tags show that Cheerios rank at 37, Special K Protein Plus lands at 53 and Shredded Wheat comes out at 91 on the NuVal scale.
The system takes more than 30 different nutrients and nutrition factors into account. Mariano's store associates will be available to answer questions and help customers use the system.
The grocer fills a spot at 2527 W. Golf Road in the Hoffman Village Shopping Center, near the corner of Golf and Barrington roads, that was left vacant by a Dominick's departure in January.
It will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. It features include a pharmacy, a coffee and homemade gelato bar, prepared foods, a sushi bar, a fresh juicing station, a luxury wine wall showcasing more than 1,000 wines and more.
While browsing produce, Mark Moreno of Streamwood said he had never been to a Mariano's before and that it was "above and beyond" what he expected.
"It's very cool," he said, adding that the prices weren't as expensive as he thought they might be. "I was very curious just to see what it was like. They certainly carry a lot bigger selection than your typical grocery store."
Schaumburg resident Nafila Mannan said she had excitedly waited for opening day. While picking out yogurts, she said she was impressed with the size of the store and the variety of products.
"I was kind of upset Dominick's left, but (Mariano's) is a pretty good substitute," she said, adding that she plans to frequently shop there and that maybe the store will bring more business to the area.
CEO Bob Mariano said he is optimistic his store will help the shopping center, which was left two-thirds vacant for a time when Dominick's left.
"If it's anything like our experiences at other locations, I would expect that within the year most of these vacancies will be taken up," he said.
Mariano said the feedback he heard from shoppers Monday was very positive and that he anticipates customers to come not just from Hoffman Estates but also from communities like Elgin and Barrington.
"It's a very diverse clientele, a very rich, beautiful mosaic of customers that we've seen so far," he said.
To celebrate the opening, Mariano's made a $2,500 donation to both the Children's Advocacy Center and Frank C. Whiteley Elementary School. There are currently six Mariano's locations in the Chicago area and the company plans to expand, with new stores coming soon to Lake Zurich and Frankfort.