WHEATON – After months of anticipation, Mariano's of Wheaton has finally opened its doors.
The gocery store's first full day of operation on Oct. 29 saw cars circling the parking lot for minutes looking for a spot and aisles of checkout counters open to ring up customers. Griddles sizzled, coffee brewed and shelves were stocked for the shoppers who traveled to visit the new location.
Bob Mariano, president and CEO of Roundy's, Mariano's parent company, was present to ensure the opening day went smoothly.
Mariano said he was happy to see the company expand into western DuPage County and that the store would be a perfect fit for the Glen Ellyn and Wheaton area.
"Some people have the misconception that we are an upscale store. We're a comfortable, easy place to shop and get a multitude of different shopping trips done at once," he said. "We're saving the thing that customers have so very little of – time."
The more than 74,000-square-foot building contains organic and non-organic produce, meats, dairy and frozen foods, as well as several areas for prepared food, including Todd's BBQ, OKI Sushi, pizza, gelato and aisle-length salad bars.
Joseph O'Connor, the executive chef for Mariano's, said that the full-service approach to food is what elevates the store beyond simply offering high quality groceries.
"Mr. Mariano doesn't just want you to come and get your ingredients to cook and leave," he said. "We affect the market pretty dramatically just by how we do business. We're customer-oriented and quality-oriented."
While the store offers many products carried by other grocers, Mariano's takes an extra step, said Roundy's spokeperson Dana Schueller. The location cheese shop carries hundreds of cheeses, a bakery features intricate cakes, employees at the meat and seafood section will grill customer's selections in-store for no charge and beverages can be found in a walk-in beer cooler.
But Wheaton resident and Store Director Andy Dillion said Mariano's isn't exclusively for those looking for hard-to-find exotic ingredients.
"We cater to foodies and families," he said. "If you're on a budget, we can work with that. If you have exotic tastes, we can cater to that."
As part of the effort to make the store's products accessible to a wide range of people, said Schueller, staff at a number of different locations to help guide customer's selections.
Dillion said that the excitement in Wheaton surrounding the opening is palpable.
“Wheaton will become a destination for people who may not have had a reason to come to Wheaton before,” said Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk in a previous interview with Suburban Life. “They will be spending dollars here, may get familiar with our town and hopefully will come back to visit restaurants and our downtown.”
The opening of Mariano's brings about 425 jobs to the city for local residents.
"I think the consensus is that this is what the town's been missing," Dillion said.
To learn more about Mariano's of Wheaton, located at 625 S. Main St., visit www.marianos.com or call 630-690-6451.
Mariano's by the numbers
• 74,050 square feet
• Estimated to generate $70 to $80 million in annual revenue
• More than 400 full- and part-time employees
• 345 parking spots
• Open seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Restaurants and prepared food offerings
• Todds BBQ
• Squeez'd smoothie bar
• Vero coffee and gelato shop
• OKI Sushi
• Salad bar
• Pizza and sandwich station
• Grill station for meat and seafood
• Cheese shop
• Walk-in beer cooler
• Full service pharmacy
• Floral department
• Bakery with artisan breads, pastries and cakes
• Glass atrium and cafe setting