ChicagoDowntown / Loop

Will the new West Loop Mariano’s raise nearby condo prices?

by Joe Zekas on 12/20/12

Within the past week two of Chicago’s more successful Realtors, both Prudential Rubloff agents, called my attention to the new West Loop Mariano’s.

Christine Hancock, who lives in the West Loop, suggested a need for “a twelve-step program to overcome” her developing addiction to Mariano’s. Francesca Rose emailed that she found herself eating regularly at Mariano’s while servicing a nearby listing: “they will grill anything from the butcher to eat there or take home. I had a cheddar chipotle burger and bought a bun from the bakery for 39 cents. The Vero gelato and coffee are addictive. Having 5-items-or-less checkout stations throughout the store is just genius. I heard Dominick’s is deserted.”

I stopped by at about 1 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, and it was easy to see that Mariano’s was drawing a crowd and generating a lot of excitement. There were hundreds of people in the store, most of them clustered around an extensive array of ready-to-eat and made-to-order counters and specialty food and drink bars. The Wi-Fi-equipped lounges were packed. I’m not one to pay close attention to prices, but my superficial impression was that Mariano’s were at least competitive and, for some items, surprisingly low. If I lived or worked in the area, there’s little doubt I’d be dining at or from Mariano’s several times a week.

Having Mariano’s close by would, at first blush, appear to add value to nearby condos and apartments. That judgment might be too hasty. Mariano’s just might have a “Wal-Mart effect” on nearby restaurants and take-out dining venues, crippling or killing enough of them to depress values in the immediate area.

While you’re pondering whatever effect Mariano’s might have, you can scan a few more scenes from the West Loop store:

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

David December 20, 2012 at 9:16 AM

I have stopped shopping at Jewel or Dominicks since Marianos opened in Lakeshore East. Prices are competitive to lower, cleaner, friendlier, etc. Its above and beyond what else the Dominicks and Jewel offers. Frankly, I hope Jewel and Dominicks closes shop on Roosevelt, developers bulldoze both, and put up rental building.

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Fred December 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

To me Mariano’s is nothing revolutionary, just a poor man’s Whole Foods. Its just a grocery store with a concentration on pre-made and made-to-order food. The South Loop Whole Foods has a higher end version of the same thing.

The advantage it has over Whole Foods is that it also carries the national brand cleaning products and such. I, and a lot of other people, don’t feel the need to buy the crunchy-granola mega-expensive toilet paper, paper towels and laundry detergent and am quite happy with the cheaper national brand stuff that Whole Foods does not sell. This means a second stop to get those items. I still prefer the produce at Whole Foods.

If you are willing to compromise on the produce in order to have one stop shopping, I can see how Mariano’s would be for you.

I can’t imagine it is affecting property values. Its not like this area was a food desert. I don’t see why Jewel or Dominick’s couldn’t (doesn’t) replicate this model.

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Matt December 20, 2012 at 11:41 AM

What a joke, Mariano’s produce is just as good as what one would find at a Whole Foods, the price just isn’t jacked up 2-3x more so folks don’t feel as snobby about it.

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ed December 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM

id put marianos produce up against almost anyone. mark my words, it wont be long before we start to see a lot of christmas/halloween/easter stores in old dominicks locations

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ed December 20, 2012 at 12:44 PM

the real estate angle could be very interesting. there is a new marianos opening up directly behind my building and its scheduled to open one month after i have to renew my lease. should be an intersting discussion

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mj60607 December 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM

not sure what effect it will have on real estate prices in the area, but it’s a nice addition to the neighborhood list.

Dominick’s must be shaking in their boots. I’m sure I’m not the only one that will never go back to that homeless hangout, er store.

Mariano’s has a great business plan, nice looking stores, great variety (arguably one of the best supermarket bakeries in the city), and great staff.

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pedro December 20, 2012 at 2:45 PM

What did Whole Food PR get to yo chicago?

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Joe Zekas December 20, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Huh?

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pedro December 21, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Joe, just responding to the poster who thinks Whole Foods is the end all be all of grocers.

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Fred December 21, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Which was in response to the two women in the article who think Mariano’s is the end all be all of grocers.

Luckily there are choices and people are free to shop wherever they like.

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Fred December 20, 2012 at 3:34 PM

I am in no way associated with Whole Foods. Just giving my opinion based on personal experience.

I have personally purchased produce at Mariano’s that was wilted and gross 48 hours later. I expect that from Stanley’s, not Mariano’s. If you have not had that happen, then great. I am just sharing my experience.

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Craig December 20, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Fred – I have had the “gross after 48 hours” experience often at Whole Foods but never at Marianos. So it really does vary by customer.

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Laurie December 22, 2012 at 7:32 PM

The produce is beyond anything in the ciry

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Danny December 31, 2012 at 7:06 PM

I’m moving to Dearborn Park II and am excited to see that there will be a new Mariano’s within walking distance to my townhouse. I also love that Trader Joes is also steps away. I’ve never liked going to Dominick’s on Canal nor the Jewel on Roosevelt and State. I’ve been the store in the West Loop and its great. Yay!

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