When Grand Food Center calls itself "your local grocer," it's not lip service. That's because the grocery store's staff offers up personable services, whether they're whipping up healthy meals to go or planning a catering event with clients. They also helm all of the classic grocery store departments, including produce, deli, bakery, and seafood, without the impersonal feel or robotic arms found at large grocery chains. More proof of their dedication to the neighborhood: they regularly participate in charity events, including food pantry drives and children's sports fundraisers.
The Burhop family keeps their fish markets stocked with just-caught, never-frozen goods. They do this by going right to the source?wholesale distributors in Alaska, Hawaii, New England, and as far away as Australia. Their connections with these distributors stretch over the course of Burhop's 88-year history, which started when Albert "Pops" Burhop founded a wholesale-seafood business in downtown Chicago. When locals started offering him money and moon rocks in exchange for the prized cuts of fish, Pops decided to cut out the middleman.
Today, they proudly report that many of their loyal customers are transplants from the East and West Coasts, where fresh seafood is easier to come by. Ironically, Burhop's gets fresher stuff than many stores on the coasts do, thanks to Chicago's central location, which enables quick shipping from all of America's shores. In the shop, customers can watch as the filleters skillfully ply their craft. Get to know your Burhop?s fish mongers! A series of online video tutorialss teach home chefs to prep mouthwatering lobster tails, soft shell crabs, tuna burgers, and more.
The artful bakers at Upper Crust Bagels craft more than 15 varieties of kettle-boiled New York–style bagels fresh daily. The dough wizards work through the night to forge the circular comestibles, deftly mixing, shaping, and punching out their centers to ensure that they rise from their nocturnal slumber. Esurient shoppers can construct a baker’s dozen of flavor halos, populating their assembly with savory and sweet denizens such as sundried tomato, pumpernickel, and chocolate chip, along with a plain bagel for frills-free palates. Once a phalanx of 13 disks has been bagged up, nibblers appoint one of Upper Crust’s freshly whipped cream cheeses to the role of bagel haberdasher, cloaking floury plains with rich layers of spreads such as light lox spread or cheddar cheese.
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.
Since its establishment in 1936, Schaefer's has acquired a wealth of notoriety for its comprehensive yet complex assortment of complementary flavors. The drinkporium stocks hundreds of bottles of globally acquired wines, and fills aisles with unusual and exotic beers. The spirits department lines up anything from top-shelf whiskey to high-proof elixirs. And the gourmet goods section hosts fine, finger-friendly apps and pairables, such as imported French Saint-André cheese ($14.99 per lb.), Cacciatore artisan salami ($18.99), chocolates, and dips, making customers want to hold back a few shillings in their satchels. Because Schaefer's maintains its commitment to diversity and quality, items such as wine, beer, and liquor bottles range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars each.
“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.