Pete’s Fresh Market coming to West Haven community
September 4, 2009

Pete’s Fresh Markets are known for offering a wide selection of produce.

By Dan Kolen | September 2009

West Haven, one of several “food desert” communities in Chicago without a major grocery store, finally will get its source for fresh produce and meat. Second Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti and a Pete’s Fresh Market representative at an Aug. 20 community meeting outlined a plan to build a Pete’s at the corner of Madison Street and Western Avenue by June 2011. A standing room only crowd of hundreds in the Phoenix Military Academy’s auditorium expressed excitement over the announcement.

“Right now all that’s offered to us is mostly just snacks and junk food,” said Rochelle Colsten, a West Side resident almost her whole life. “Now we’re going to get a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables for adults and children.”

Jewel, Food-4-Less, Aldi, and Pete’s all vied for the right to build a store in West Haven, although Aldi dropped out of the running in the spring. Fioretti toured 60 grocery stores around the Chicago area, including all 14 Pete’s Fresh Markets, as part of a group of residents and City officials that included Mary Bonome, City Department of Community Development commissioner.

The group used a 12-point rating scale to determine what grocery store would fit the needs of the community best; among the factors were local hiring, independence from City assistance, and the construction timeline. In the end, the group chose Pete’s.

“The community has waited for this for a very long time,” Bonome said. “This was one of eight food deserts in the city, and today we’re announcing that it’s closing,” Fioretti said to spirited applause.

Development costs will total $18 million, and building should begin in June 2010, according to Endy Zemenides, attorney for Pete’s. “We go where the big companies have left behind,” Zemenides said of Pete’s, a family owned and operated chain that has been in Chicago for more than 30 years and employs 10,000 people. “We’re very happy to be here.”

The full-service store will produce and serve Giordano’s pizza but will not sell liquor. Also, it likely will have a salad bar but not a pharmacy. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Fioretti said bringing Pete’s to the West Haven/West Side area signals that better times lie ahead. Colsten agreed, saying, “It means there’s commercial business here. It’s going to help the value of the area.”

At a May community meeting, representatives from Pete’s promised to hire local residents, promote from within whenever possible, and provide training for new employees. They expect to create 150 new jobs at the store and have promised to accept LINK cards and food stamps and to self-finance the store’s construction.

Although Jewel is a bigger chain than Pete’s or Food-4-Less, the decision came down to the latter two, both of which had community residents lobbying for them.

A local group, the Neighbors’ Development Network (NDN) had lobbied for Pete’s. Heather Jamison of NDN said at the May meeting that Pete’s “would provide more jobs, since they do use baggers.”

Andre Perrin, another NDN organizer, said at the earlier meeting that Pete’s does not “take expansion lightly, and they don’t close stores. You know that if Pete’s opens in a neighborhood they’re going to be invested for the long haul.”

Editor’s note: Patrick Butler also contributed to this article.

2 Responses »

  1. A 14 store chain with 10,000 employees? Sorry, but that’s not possible. Even 1,000 would be unlikely. Also, their own website only lists 7 locations.

    Congrats to the community for getting what they wanted. When all the fervor dies down, they may come to realize that a produce market isn’t a grocery store, and that their diets are unlikely to begin consisting solely of fruits and vegetables. The placement of this specialty market fails to address the problem of this area being a “food desert”. The residents will still need to travel for non-produce items.

    This seems to be yet another example of an alderman’s ego overriding the true need of his constituents: an affordable, one-stop grocery store.

  2. Pete’s Market sells a lot more than produce…good job doing your research Matt. Fresh Market is just the name. You should go inside one, they sell everything a regular grocery store sells.

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