Friday, October 22, 2010

Green Grocer--Newly Redesigned Jewel Now Open On Southport

ChiIL Mama got to take a sneak peek at the latest Jewel in the crown of Supervalu, and it is impressive.   In 2009, the 30 year old Jewel Food Store that stood at 3630 N. Southport Ave. near Addison for over 30 years, was demolished, so a new, green building twice as large could take it's place.  Designed by Chicago architects Camburas & Theodore, the outside has been loudly criticized for being ugly, but the inside is bright, open and creative.  Those of you who geek out on numbers, the new store is 62,349 square feet.

Jewel pulled out all the stops, with a free, underground parking garage for the spot challenged Lakeview Community, a green roof with vegetation, energy efficient LED lighting, water saving fixtures and faucets, recycled construction materials, and recycling of materials during and after construction.  The next step is applying for silver LEED certification which could not be done prior to the store's opening.

The new Jewel has a store staff of more than 200 employees including full time Chef Shawn and Sushi Sue, ready to feed and enlighten you.   With an upscale CK grill with seating, a sushi bar, olive and salad bars, and expanded organic and kosher sections, they're prepared to give Whole Foods some friendly competition.   They haven't gone the in store bar route, but they do have an extensive, impressive liquor department that spans the entire top floor and still manages to be open and airy.   The store plans weekend wine samplings with knowledgeable experts, to educate the Friday night "keg parade". 

The Southport location is the 3rd green redesign Jewel has completed in the Chicago area with more to come.   In 2008, the first opened at 370 N. Desplaines St. in Chicago's Fulton River District.   The following year, the 2nd green store opened in Marshfield Plaza, on Chicago's South Side.  Each redesign is meticulously planned and includes many place specific touches.   Southport features local street names on the aisles, large windows designed to include the community beyond, and giant Wrigley Field related murals.   The light, spacious feel is welcoming.

Jewel also met with community members and sought input during the redesign, which resulted in a greatly expanded Kosher section, including a dedicated Kosher meat-cutting room.   The natural and organic sections, including produce and wild harvest private label products, have been expanded as well.   An entire gluten-free product section is well marked, and diabetics and their families are welcome to plan a store tour with a dietitian, who will assist them in making wise, well informed food choices.

The pharmacy delivers, so parents don't have to drag their ill children out to the store.   And flu shots, tetanus/pertussis shots, and even regular check ups are available on site for anyone over 14.   Walk ins are possible, but appointments are recommended.

Press was treated to a tour with a host of experts, whom Jewel employs to educate the staff who will be on hand daily.   They aim to help shoppers not only find product but find OUT about product.   The cheese girls, train staff to be well informed about 24 feet of cheese, including the real deal, like freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano that wouldn't be caught dead in a fluorescent, green can.   Other regional experts (including another who shares my name) make sure on site employees are well briefed on all store product.   We got the low down on produce, meat, seafood, wine, prepared foods, deli, baked goods, floral, and in house lines like Jewel's own wild harvest organics.

Yakov Yarmove literally travels the world, researching the freshest, best certified kosher products.   Even if you're not Jewish, with these picks you know you're getting safely prepared, flavorful foods.   The new kosher section goes well beyond matzo balls and will include fresh meat and pre-packaged chicken, kosher baked goods, and domestic and imported wine, including wine from Israel.

Jewel has become savvy to the fact that customers crave information to make smart, personal shopping decisions without scrutinizing labels.   I was impressed with bold, clear signage, to assist with informing without overwhelming consumers.   Health conscious shoppers will find it easier than ever to customize their carts for optimal eating.

For more information on store events and hours, recipes, coupons, and in store product information, check with Jewel on line HERE, and/or friend them on Facebook.

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