Adi Mor opened the first Garden Fresh Market in 1980, selling fresh produce from a 1,000-square-foot lot in Skokie, which he would stock by taking 2 a.m. trips to Chicago's South Water market. Today, Garden Fresh Market sprawls over six suburban locations, where fresh produce from apples to zucchinis is still procured daily.
Grocery items range from fresh meat from Midwest famers to a wide selection of ethnic foods and national brands. The deli slices meats and cheeses both domestic and imported, and house-made seasonal salads and main courses make bringing dinner home easier than stealing it from a neighbor's windowsill. Many of the market's online recipes have even made it onto NBC5, giving its cooks their share of 15 minutes of fame.
So established is Circle K Midwest that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for—fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Fresh Café, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including sandwiches, fruit cups, and fresh-cut vegetables. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with premium coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
Diamond Fresh Seafood Market & Cafe is a gathering place for fresh-caught seafood from the far reaches of the world's oceans. As daily hauls of imported and domestically snagged premium seafood arrive, the knowledgeable staff doles out creative café-style meals that include shrimp alfredo and hearty salmon burgers. Customers who prefer to cart home their catches pick up home cooking tips at cooking demonstrations by pro seafood chef Carol Mackey, who reveals the culinary secrets behind potato-encrusted sea bass and other recipes. At the monthly demos, attendees can also bring their own spirits to sip during the presentation and the resident singing trout's lounge act that follows.
Growing up, Barron Perl and his six brothers spent a lot of time helping out with their family’s sausage manufacturing company. Barron expanded the Perls’ meat-making legacy years later when he opened Deli Direct, a gourmet food distributor specializing in smoked meat and natural Wisconsin cheese. In addition to handcrafted sausages and blocks of cheese, the store also specializes in tangy mustards, gluten-free party dips, and tasty horseradish products—including spicy pickles by the gallon. For the perfect gift, the staff assembles wicker baskets that overflow with edible treats, and you can assemble your own smorgasbord at Deli Direct’s outlet store.
“Our father and grandfather have been in the wholesale and retail produce business, and that type of store was a natural for us,” Isaac Nava says, referring to the market and deli he opened with his brother Moishe in 2010. The third establishment to bear the Nava name, it supplies first and second spots—both homestyle Mexican restaurants—with fresh fruits and veggies, meat, and dairy products. Customers will also find plenty of household goods lining the grocery store’s aisles. And at the deli counter, a sprawling menu details sandwiches made with salami, roast beef, and turkey, as well as wraps, salads, and freshly blended smoothies that constantly battle with daily soups over the control of cups, bowls, and curved hands.
Though barbecuing and baking apple pie are among America's favorite pastimes, shopping for the necessary ingredients can be a cumbersome chore. With this in mind, brothers Andrew and Thomas Parkinson founded Peapod based on the idea that people's time is precious. Their website allows online shoppers to browse thousands of grocery and household items and have them delivered or prepared for pick-up at the touch of a button, with added conveniences such as saved shopping lists and filters that highlight products with specific nutritional information. Shoppers can control the quality of their orders by requesting that Peapod's personal shoppers select yellow or green bananas, or deli meat that's sliced thick, or thin. Market-specific offerings ensure that buyers from New York to Chicago can also find signature, hometown foods.
But the brothers are anything but complacent about the Skokie, Illinois–based company's growing success, which has been documented by such media outlets as the New York Times. Thomas Parkinson demonstrated one of Peapod's latest innovations in a Fox Business report with Jeff Flock—virtual grocery-store aisles on commuter-train platforms, which allow customers to use their smartphone to easily pick out items for next-day delivery. Chicago Tribune reporter Mary Ellen Podmolik recently documented another innovation: pickup sites where customers can retrieve their previously ordered groceries without leaving their vehicle.