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Article updated: 5/7/2013 10:32 AM

Tony's Finer Foods opening Wednesday in Hanover Park

By Kimberly Pohl

In addition to an extensive selection of produce and long bakery, deli and meat counters, Tony's Finer Foods has always touted its wide variety of international products that cater to different ethnicities.

So it was a natural move for the family-owned grocery chain to venture west to Hanover Park, which points to its own multicultural makeup as one of the village's most vital assets.

Itasca-based Tony's Finer Foods will open its 10th Chicago-area store Wednesday in the Westview Shopping Center building at 7580 Barrington Road.

"The closest stores to here are in Melrose Park and Niles, so we felt that coming out west could work," said Tony Ingraffia, who owns the chain with partner Dominick Gambino. "There's a great variety of people here."

Village officials, community leaders, friends and relatives -- Tony's truly is a family affair with numerous children, spouses and in-laws employed at the corporate office -- gathered Monday afternoon for a VIP celebration. They toured the 67,000-square-foot store and sampled cannolis, pasta and other treats.

Although the produce bins remained mostly bare, flags of more than a dozen flags countries hang over the aisles to mark Indian, Italian, Polish and even British sections.

Hanover Park Village Clerk Eira Corral was particularly impressed that an entire aisle was dedicated to Hispanic goods, including more than 20 types of dried beans.

"I remember growing up, my family had to go to 26th Street in the city to get these kinds of ingredients," Corral said. "Now, people are catching on that our diversity can be an economic opportunity."

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 38.3 percent of Hanover Park's 38,000 residents are Hispanic.

Tony's Finer Foods, which started in 1979 with a store on Fullerton Avenue in Chicago, operates four stores in Chicago and other locations in Bridgeview, Melrose Park, Niles and North Riverside. In January, it opened a new store in Plainfield.

Ingraffia said he isn't concerned about the expansion of other popular chains such as Mariano's, Meijer and, later this year in Rolling Meadows, Uncle Joe's Tuscan Fresh Market. He said patrons will be pleased with the variety and freshness of produce and other items.

He also said that as a member of the Central Grocers Co-op, Tony's is competitive in both quality and prices.

Tony's Finer Foods replaces discount grocery chain Ultra Foods, which parent company SVT LLC closed in late 2012 due to poor performance.

"It was a shock when Ultra left, and it was clear we had no chance of keeping them," Hanover Park Mayor Rod Craig said. "I couldn't be happier about an operation like Tony's coming in."

Ingraffia said Tony's will employ about 200 people. The company is considering the possibility of future expansion in the north and west suburbs, but there are no concrete plans in place.

The Hanover Park store's hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. Wednesday. For more information about the store, call (630) 246-7359.

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