Tony's Fresh Market opens first Lake County location in Round Lake Beach
Round Lake Beach store is chain's first in Lake County
Dozens of expectant shoppers lined up before the 7 a.m. grand opening Wednesday of Tony's Fresh Market in Round Lake Beach.
The company's 17th location anchors the Rollins Commons strip shopping center in a busy commercial area at Rollins Road and Route 83. It's the first Tony's location in Lake County.
Known for its ethnic brand selections and fresh produce, Tony's wants to bridge a gap for shoppers who have multiple options in town, including Meijer's and Jewel stores, within sight across Rollins Road.
"We see the need for a store like this in the community," said Jimmy Marnos, one of several top executives and family members on hand for a ceremonial ribbon cutting, and to make sure things went smoothly. Marnos oversaw the hiring of 220 employees.
"As we were meeting people in the community, they were thanking us for coming," he said.
The 69,000 square-foot main space in the mid-1970s shopping center previously was occupied by a Zayre discount store and, most recently, a Garden Fresh grocery that closed a few years ago.
Tony's Finer Foods Enterprise Inc. bought the entire center and overhauled the space. The parking lots, building facades and landscaping have been refreshed, and there are plans to add amenities and revive the center, Marnos said.
The plan is supported by a $6.2 million sales tax rebate incentive over a maximum of 25 years. Village officials approved the agreement in November.
"They're refurbishing the whole mall, bringing it back to life," said Mayor Scott Nickles, who attended the ribbon cutting. "They are incentivized to bring new business into our area."
The spotlight Wednesday was on the new store, which is a fresh option for those who haven't shopped at Tony's and a comforting reminder for those who moved to the area from Chicago or its near suburbs.
"It was the best experience. I love Tony's," said Tina Oquendo, who brought 3-year old son Y.J. on opening day. She moved to Round Lake Beach from Chicago two years ago.
"I used to walk there when I was 10 years old," she said of one of the six Chicago locations. "The prices, the produce -- it's a home feel."
Nickels' wife, Julie, was among those in line before the doors opened. The couple originally are from Chicago.
"When you walk in, 'Bam!' You're back home," Julie Nickles said.
Round Lake Beach residents Art and Jacy Arizmendi brought their 3-month old daughter, Brooklyn, to check the offerings in advance of an official shopping trip. They were particularly interested in Italian foods and exotic brands not available elsewhere.
"I go to four or five different stores depending on what I need," said Jacy, who does the family grocery shopping. "The produce is really, really nice. I'll get quite a few things here," she added.
Meanwhile, the village is pursuing other potential projects.
"We have a lot of development people we're speaking with now, both residential and commercial," Nickles said. "We don't have a lot of area to fill but what we need to fill is important."