“Our gelato was always good, but it wasn’t ever world class,” said Gary Zickel, who leads the food innovation group and has been with Mariano’s since before the Kroger acquisition.
“It is banal now,” said Weil, 78, who lives in Hyde Park. “Whatever gave it some flair is gone. It is a generic, cookie-cutter store.”
Mariano’s also carries an extensive line of Home Chef, the Chicago-based meal kit company purchased by Kroger for $200 million in 2018. While other meal kit delivery companies have floundered, Marx said Home Chef is selling well because it offers varied options that satisfy consumers who want to spend time cooking as well as those who prefer heat-and-eat options. Advertisement
As people gravitate toward more grab-and-go eating, rather than dining in store, Mariano’s is developing more refrigerated meals. It recently introduced a $9.99 single-serve prime rib that comes with a twice-baked potato and brussels sprouts, and is developing entrees with salmon and chicken Milanese, Zickel said.
A hot bar now carries newer items like lobster mac and cheese, and a 12-foot sushi case is triple the space previously dedicated to raw fish. At the beer bar, a new program called M20 offers a $3 pour in a 20-ounce pint glass of a rotating assortment of craft beers.
The first Doms Market & Kitchen is slated for the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago in March 2021.
The Chicago news outlet says Mariano received a $10 million investment from Valor Siren Ventures and Cleveland Avenue, and he is partnering with grocery veterans Jay Owen and Don Fitzgerald. Owen is the grandson of Dominick’s Finer Foods — which went out of business in 2013 — founder Dominick DiMatteo. Mariano became president and CEO of Dominicks in 1995. Fitzgerald was an executive at Roundys during Marianos time there.
Now, Mariano is planning to open the first Doms Market & Kitchen in 2021. The new venture will be small-format stores with open kitchens where customers can see staff preparing dine-in and take-home meals, according to Crains Chicago Business.
Bob Mariano, former head of Roundys supermarket chain and founder of his namesake Mariano’s Fresh Market banners, isnt staying out of the grocery industry for much longer. Mariano retired in September 2016 after Roundys merged with The Kroger Co. in December 2015.
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