The Untold Truth Of Mariano's

Supermarket chain Mariano's set itself apart from other grocery stores by offering a variety of specialty items, according to its website. If you've been to one of their 44 locations (as of 2020), you might be familiar with signature products like their Squeez'd Juice and Smoothies, Vero Coffee & Gelato, and Oki Sushi rolls, poke bowls, and potstickers. Not only do they sell ready-to-be-eaten foods like fried chicken, but if you purchase meat or seafood from the store, they will grill it for you for free! With perks like that, it's not surprising the chain's namesake had a lot of experience perfecting the supermarket experience.

If there's anyone who gets the grocery store business it's Bob Mariano. According to a press release shared by Cision PR Newswire, his first foray into the industry was in 1967 working part-time as a deli clerk at Dominick's, a Chicago-area supermarket chain. From there, he worked his way up the ladder, eventually landing as the president and CEO of Dominick's in 1995. In 2002, Mariano became chief of Roundy's, and thanks to this position, in 2010 in the Chicago suburb Arlington Heights, the first Mariano's was born.

Mariano's offers programs for the community but lacks its initial appeal

There's more than just groceries at Mariano's. Since the first store was opened, the chain has given more than 10 million pounds of food to food pantries and other community-oriented organizations. Mariano's also supports the local art scene in a number of ways, including streaming performances and hosting summer concerts at some of their locations. The chain involves local "Tastemakers," too, showcasing the work of sommeliers, mixologists, and lifestyle experts, and hosting local vendors to exhibit their products (via Mariano's). Why should grocery shopping be boring?

But, Mariano's may not be as fun as it once was. Kroger bought the chain in 2015, and, according to Chicago Now, has made some unpopular changes. Originally the chain was more than just a stop on the errand list – a destination where shoppers could actually meet up, have a drink, hang out, and even catch a game. But, those days might be over. Carole Kuhrt Brewer writes, "No longer does my neighborhood Mariano's offer made-to-order guac, homemade potato chips, a Squeez'd bar or other things that made them stand apart." Kroger has swapped in their brands for previous offerings, and apparently, some prices have even gone up!

According to Grocery Dive, Bob Mariano, who retired as head of Roundy's division in 2016, will be starting a new grocery store, Dom's Market & Kitchen. The first location is planned for Lincoln Park. Let's hope it offers a grocery destination reminiscent of the beloved Mariano's of yesteryear.