Mariano's Fresh Market continued its advance in the suburbs Tuesday with the opening of its first new store of the year at Route 22 and Quentin Road in Lake Zurich.
Doors opened at 6 a.m. for the launch of the 14th Chicago-area store by Wisconsin-based Roundy's Inc. At the lunch hour, the 451-space parking lot was full, and inside more than 18 check outs were humming with activity rivaling that of a mall on Christmas Eve.
"It was actually very well organized. We didn't have to wait for anything," said Karen Delfavero of Hawthorn Woods. She brought her daughter, Lauren Duran, who lives in Crystal Lake to show her the selection.
"She's working in Lake Zurich now, so this will be her new lunch spot," Delfavero said.
A specialty olive oil and vinegar shop featuring more than 200 items, and a nutritional identification program that uses color-coded "wellness tags" on products throughout the store, are new offerings for the chain that touts high-quality service and a relaxing shopping environment.
The Lake Zurich store, which employs about 400, also features a Todd's BBQ eat-in restaurant offering smoked meats and side dishes. There's also a smoothie bar, gelato shop, sushi bar and a variety of prepared and made-to-order foods.
"At Mariano's Lake Zurich, customers will get a truly unique experience tailored to individual needs -- whether you're a foodie, a parent or someone on the go. This sets us apart from the competition," Bob Mariano, Roundy's chairman and CEO said in a statement.
Mariano's is the anchor of the Bradford Town Crossing shopping center, which went through several revisions including the elimination of two banks and the addition of parking spaces for Mariano's. In its request, Bradford Real Estate Cos. cited Mariano's popularity in Vernon Hills, which has nearly doubled its parking with two expansions since it opened in 2011.
The store fills a void for Lake Zurich, which lost a Dominick's in late December. But sales tax rebates to Bradford and sharing agreements with Hawthorn Woods and Kildeer will cut the take.
"Is it going to make up for Dominick's? I don't know," Mayor Tom Poynton said. He added the center will create a new gateway for the village and hopefully spark development to the west, including the downtown.
Bradford will receive an estimated $1.5 million in sales tax as a reimbursement for road, water main and other improvements necessary for the development. An additional rebate could generate another $500,000.
Mariano's operates nine suburban stores and five in Chicago. It has been an aggressive player in a rapidly changing grocery market and plans to open 16 new stores in 2014, including 11 acquired from Dominick's.
Jewel-Osco and Joe Caputo & Sons Fruit Market each have acquired four former Dominick's. On Feb. 21, Trader Joe's is scheduled to open its second store in Lake County in Libertyville.
Roundy's operates 163 grocery stores and 113 pharmacies under the Pick `n Save, Rainbow, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano's brands in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.