Ruffolo Fresh Market coming to Prospect Heights this month

Prospect Heights residents are getting an early holiday present this year — a new grocery store.

Ruffolo Fresh Market will open near the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Palatine Road by Christmas, said Mayor Nick Helmer.

“They are working hard and fast to open later this month and we are excited. We need a grocery store there,” Helmer said.

This is a second location for owner Louie Ruffolo, who in March took over and renamed the Farmer's Pride Fresh Market at 1414 W. Algonquin Road in Arlington Heights.

The 17,000-square-foot Prospect Heights space previously housed a Save-A-Lot that closed in mid-2014 after only being open for about a year. SuperValu Inc. — parent company of Save-A-Lot closed several other locations around the same time.

“We are (eager), and so are the people in the area, to get a new grocery store,” Helmer said.

He added that about 2,000 residents of nearby condos and apartments will be able to walk to the new grocery store in the Palwaukee shopping center.

Earlier this fall, the Prospect Heights city council approved a sales tax rebate program with Ruffolo to help get the store off the ground for the first five years, Helmer said.

In the first year, the city will rebate 50 percent of the sales tax it receives from Ruffolo Fresh Market back to the business. Over the next few years that will decrease to 40 percent, 30 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent by the fifth year.

“At the end of five years he should be well-established. It will be a big help to him and we're happy to be able to do it,” Helmer said.

The deal is similar to what was done for Ultra Foods, which opened along Rand Road in early 2014.

“We thought this would be a nice way to get a smaller merchant started,” Helmer said. “Not only because of the need, but who wants vacant storefronts? No one.”

Ruffolo was formerly vice president of operations for Caputo & Sons grocery stores and was in talks with Rolling Meadows officials in 2013 to open a store called Uncle Joe's Tuscan Fresh Market in the long vacant Dominick's along Kirchoff Road. That project fell through.

Ruffolo did not respond to calls for comment on the new store, but Helmer said it will include a meat market, large fresh produce section, prepared foods and more.

The city will work with the store to plan a grand opening and ribbon cutting soon.

“We just want to give them a big welcome to Prospect Heights,” Helmer said. “We're glad they're here and we just know they'll be successful.

  Ruffolo Fresh Market will open in Prospect Heights at the intersection of Palatine Road and Milwaukee Avenue later this month. "We need a grocery store there," Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer said. Mark Welsh/
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