The "Mariano's experience" is now a Naperville experience.
The upscale grocer opens its 37th store at 6 a.m. today at 1300 S. Naper Blvd., The store brings with it the first potted herb center along with many specialty offerings that define what it means to shop at Mariano's, said Bob Mariano, president and CEO of the chain's parent company, Roundy's Supermarkets.
There's an oyster bar and a wine bar. Bread sliced fresh to order. Sushi and barbecue restaurants and a coffee and gelato shop -- all in-house. A salad bar, hot bar, rotisserie station, soup station and pastry shop -- not to mention aisles of typical grocery store staples.
It's half grocery store, half restaurant -- or a "grocerant," as Mariano likes to call it. The setup allows customers to conveniently experiment with unusual types of produce, meats or spices.
"It gives them the opportunity to have different food experiences in a very comfortable location -- a food store," Mariano said.
The meat department offers to cook customers' purchases for them. The new potted herb center sells basil, chives and oregano and more and offers advice on how to grow spices at home.
"We make a special effort to teach people how to use potted herbs and make them part of their culinary experience," Mariano said.
The "grocerant" experience is something Naperville consumers have been hungry for since the chain opened its first store in 2010 in Arlington Heights, Mariano said. Shoppers in the city have proved they have discriminating palates and they expect value and a large selection.
"They're looking for a little more," Mariano said.
The new store fills a vacancy created at the end of 2013 when Dominick's stores closed throughout the suburbs.
Shoppers excited to return today said they've watched the store's construction as Mariano's tore down the existing structure and built anew. Mariano said that was a more efficient way for the company to update old infrastructure and bring the building up to code.
Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said he's happy the company has invested so much in the city.
The company's investment in the city could continue as Mariano said he plans to meet with the mayor's office about potential locations for a second Naperville store. The company plans to open two more Chicago stores later this year and five more in the region next year.