Carol Stream officials remember Dominick's, consider future of grocery shopping in village

CAROL STREAM – A staple in the Carol Stream community for more than three decades, Dominick's grocery store shut its doors for the last time at noon Saturday.

The branch is one of roughly 70 in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs to be closed or sold to other grocery chains. News of the massive closing was announced in November by Dominick's parent company, Safeway.

"It's the end of an era as far as we're concerned," said Carol Stream Mayor Frank Saverino.

Located in the Geneva Crossing shopping center at 560 Schmale Road, Dominick's first opened in the early 1970s, later changing locations from one side of Schmale to the other, said Village Manager Joseph Breinig.

Saverino has even earlier memories of Dominick's stores.

"I go back with Dominick's since when I was a kid," he said.

When he was about 11 years old, in the mid-1950s, Saverino delivered groceries for one of Dominick's earliest stores, on Central Park Avenue in Chicago.

"Dominick's was part of our life," he said. "We grew up in Chicago, that was where we shopped."

Until last week, the local Dominick's was still the place to shop for Luanne Triolo Newman, executive director for the Carol Stream Chamber of Commerce.

"I enjoy the manager and the staff there and they have always been wonderful," she said. "I'm really going to miss them being open."

The village coffers will also miss the sales tax revenue Dominick's has generated for the community throughout the years, village officials said.

"We are a community that doesn't have property tax, so we rely pretty heavily on sales tax and having that space filled is pretty important," Breinig said.

Saverino said Dominick's was in the top 10 highest sales tax generating businesses in Carol Stream.

He's hopeful that the Angelo Caputo's Fresh Markets flagship store set to open in 2014 at Schmale Road and North Avenue will more than cover the loss, he said.

Saverino is, however, concerned about Geneva Crossings, where Dominick's was the anchor tenant.

Village officials have reached out to shopping center ownership, offering to help find a new tenant any way they can, Saverino said.  

But he suspects the store won't be empty for long.

Saverino described a resurgence of unique, independently run grocers in the Chicagoland community, something that may help fill the hole left by Dominick's.

"There is a reason people quit shopping at Dominick's," he said. "They were no different than any other store out there."

And with Dominick's gone, Carol Stream residents still have plenty of options when it comes to grocery shopping. In addition to Caputo's, Piggly Wiggly, a self-service grocery franchise, also plans to open up shop in early 2014. Two Aldi grocery stores and a Jewel-Osco branch may attract former Dominick's patrons as well.

"I like to think we have a variety of options," Breinig said.

Nevertheless, many people have also lost their jobs as a result of the closings. Exactly how many staff members were employed at the Dominick's of Carol Stream is unknown.

Safeway did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Saverino said he's been contacted by a handful of former Dominick's employees looking for work.

Some may go into the restaurant business, and others may wind up working for Caputo's – which needs about 200 employees – Mariano's or Jewel-Osco, he said.

With the future unclear for former employees of the grocery chain, one thing is certain: for Carol Stream, Dominick's has become a relic of the past.