Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Uptown/Edgewater Mariano's Opens, And We've Got The Pictures To Prove It

The wait is over.  After months of rumors and conjecture, the former Dominick's at 5201 North Sheridan opened its doors to shoppers as Mariano's on Tuesday.  The mayor wasn't there, as he was on Monday -- and we didn't see Bob Mariano, but there were shoppers, lots of shoppers, eager to see what the new store was all about.

Uptown Update got a personal tour with a Mariano's representative (a former Uptown resident), who pointed out some of the features of the new store.  At 55,000 square feet, it's not as large as the monster 80,000sf store at Lawrence and Ravenswood, which we've been avoiding in order to judge the Uptown/Edgewater store on its own merits.  It may not be the biggest, but this Mariano's pretty much knocked our socks off.

From the outside, it looks very much like Dominick's did.  But big changes lie within.  400 new employees and services that we haven't seen in any grocery store before.  Customers were lined up at kiosks to validate their value cards, which work on the "punch system" -- for example, buy ten of a certain item, get the next one free.

When you enter the store from the Foster/Sheridan corner, you'll find yourself in the specialty food station area, perfect for people who want to grab a bite to go or eat inside at one of several cafe seating areas (with in-store wi-fi).  Much of the food prep takes place on the spot and right in front of customers (click all photos for larger versions):

Vero coffee and baked goods/breakfast items.

Squeez'd smoothie bar, with changing "Juice of the Day" selections.  We sampled
the kale smoothie, which (frankly) we expected to be nasty, but it was delicious!
Calorie and nutritional values are on display for each drink.

The gelato bar, with samples available for the asking.  We had coconut,
and yes, that is Ferrero Rocher flavor you see.  (Heaven.)

One of our favorite features, the build-your-own-meal station.  For $6, you can
buy a McDonald's meal across the street, or you can go to Mariano's and
get an entree and two side dishes of your choice.  A couple entrees are higher
priced ($10), but this is a healthier, and in some cases cheaper, alternative to fast food.

Buy a burger, seafood, or anything from the meat department, and the grill station
will prepare it right in front of you for no additional charge.  According to
our guide, Mariano's is known for its pub burgers and sausage.

Create your own salad at the huge salad bar
(there are also an olive bar and a soup bar).

Sushi chefs create rolls right in front of you, and on request.

Two different styles of pizza, meals to go, and sandwiches made to order.

A huge selection of cheeses from around the world.  The counter
wraps around and goes all the way to the wall.

Watch the cupcakes get decorated in the bakery, or buy one to go for just $2.25.

Cookies!  We particularly liked the shoe-shaped iced cookies.

Bread of all kinds, and you can buy it by the slice if you'd like.

At the front of the food specialty area, there are mini-checkout stands,
designed to help help people getting meals or snacks out the door quickly,
so they don't have to spend their lunch hour waiting in line
So those are the ready-to-go food stations.  Now on to the rest of the store:

Remember the meeting regarding the liquor moratorium, and the
unanimous vote to lift it for this area?  This is what it got customers:
a huge selection of craft beers, and a "build your own six-pack" option.
Mix and match 6 bottles for $9.  (No bottles are sold individually.)

An absolutely huge wine section, as well as personal picks from
Mariano's wine experts.  There's also a large spirits section.
An in-store nutritionist, Peggy Balboa, will hold seminars about health, particularly as
it relates to eating.  Check the stores Events page for these and other special events.
There were free cholesterol and glucose screenings Tuesday, with the glucose screenings
being held on a daily basis.  Peggy will also do nutritional counseling.  There is a
$4 prescription club for common generic drugs, similar to Walmart's plan.  

Two walls of organic produce, as well as filling a freestanding case.
A taffy apple and popcorn stand.  Get your fresh Chicago Mix right here!
You can also get taffy apples of all descriptions, after watching them
get dipped and coated on the spot.

Fresh herbs, eleven different kinds.

Got a hankering for exotic produce, like sugar cane, dragon fruit,
aloe vera leaves, or several varieties of papayas?  Get 'em here.
The floral department has beautiful arrangements of succulents,
an option to build your own floral bouquet stem by stem, and ....

.... if you've ever wanted roses with five-foot-tall stems, now you can get them.

The piano player will serenade customers on busy days, directly from the card and gift section.

There are foods from 20 different countries in the international aisle.
Where better than Uptown with our diverse population?
The store is open from 6am-10pm with some of the specialty stations closing a bit earlier.  The pharmacy is open 8am-10pm weekdays, and 9am-5pm weekends.  The Store Director is Megan Gleeson, and the phone number is 773-506-0558.  Hope you enjoy checking it out as much as we did.


  1. Bob Mariano was absolutely there, I was having a conversation with him and thanking him for acquiring this space. He was walking around, helping customers, and even bagging groceries! He'll probably be there today. At the Ravenswood location, I saw him for like the first week, especially the first weekend!

  2. By the way, I love, love, love the new store and the friendly and helpful staff. But, they do need a wine bar, which I have been amazed at the Ravenswood location, how friendly people are, look to spark a conversation, and surprised me to be a great way to meet our neighbors. Would be great if Edgewater had the same!

    1. Amen! The wine bar is always my first stop when I hit the Ravenswood Mariano's. Wouldn't mind at all if there were one here in Edgewater, though it would probably have a negative effect on my exercise routine (since it's a mile closer to me than the Ravenswood one is)!

  3. This really looks a lot more inviting compared to the old Dominick' if they only took over the Jewel on Montrose, we all be ecstatic!

    1. Amen to taking over the Jewel at Montrose!

    2. Jewel is such a dump. It has been the post office of food stores for years. It deserves whatever bleak future it may have. Now, if only Mariano's could get into the telecom game and compete with another crappy vendor in Chicago - Comcast!

    3. Renovations are being planned for the Montrose Jewel. I could tell you that I know this based on secret sources, but I heard one of the managers there talking about it the other day.

      Competition is a wonderful thing. They got marginally better once Target showed up and now they're really going to have to improve.

      If not then you can expect Mariano's to do to them what Walmart is doing to Sears.

  4. The Jewel has gotten much better if you can believe that!

  5. That's true. It has gotten better. It couldn't get much worse and remain competitive. They lowered some of their prices and got rid of the Preferred card, but they still have a long way to go. Mariano's is so ahead of the game. Jewel really is like Sears, except people actually still shop at Jewel. The Sears on Lawrence (one of the original stores) is mostly a ghost town.

  6. Just remember competition is good and Jewel will step up its game and hopefully keep Mariano's prices in check. Otherwise Mariano's will become another Whole (pay check) Foods.