Valli Produce celebrates 30 years in Arlington Heights

  • Frank Chilelli, from left, Alfredo Presta and Lou Tenuta opened Valli Produce in Arlington Heights 30 years ago. Today, a total of six family members are managing partners of the suburban grocery chain.

    Frank Chilelli, from left, Alfredo Presta and Lou Tenuta opened Valli Produce in Arlington Heights 30 years ago. Today, a total of six family members are managing partners of the suburban grocery chain. Courtesy of Valli Produce

  • Valli Produce opened on Golf Road in Arlington Heights in 1989. The flagship location has been remodeled and expanded since then.

    Valli Produce opened on Golf Road in Arlington Heights in 1989. The flagship location has been remodeled and expanded since then. Courtesy of Valli Produce

 
 

A mom-and-pop grocer -- actually an uncle, his two nephews and their extended families -- is celebrating 30 years in Arlington Heights.

Valli Produce International Fresh Market opened its first store at 450 E. Golf Road in 1989 -- the creation of Alfredo Presta and his two nephews, Lou Tenuta and Frank Chilelli.

To celebrate, the store will offer free coffee and cake to shoppers Saturday morning.

The family named the store after their hometown of Valli, a small farm town in Calabria, Italy.

Presta immigrated to America first, opening his first store in Chicago in 1977. He later partnered with his nephews to open their first suburban store under the Valli brand; that flagship Arlington Heights location has been remodeled and expanded over the years.

Today, Valli has six locations, including Hoffman Estates, Glendale Heights, Evanston, Rockford and Loves Park.

Much has changed over the course of three decades -- more competition from home grocery delivery service, and more stores that sell groceries, such as Target, Walmart and even Menards, Chilelli says.

Valli tries to separate itself through its fresh produce -- purchased from wholesalers daily -- and by working on volume and low profit margins, Chilelli said.

"In the last four or five years, it's been a little bit more challenging," he said. "But we're still doing good thanks to our loyal customers in the area."

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