Thursday, August 26, 2010

Crain's: Quench owner grows into grocer with new South Side cafe-boutique

A little more about the new grocery store that opened on 95th Street this week:
Quentin Love, owner of the Quench chain of six healthy fast-food restaurants on the South and West sides, opened the grocery store and cafe across from Chicago State University in the Chatham neighborhood on Thursday.

Mr. Love bought a two-year-old shop, Fresh Family Foods, at 336 E. 95th St., earlier this year and closed it for a two-month renovation.

The new 2,500-square-foot store sells produce and includes a butcher counter, a juice and smoothie bar, and a small café serving Quench's menu of fish and chicken entrees and baked goods from Brown Sugar Bakery, another of Mr. Love's businesses.

In keeping with his focus on healthy food, the store does not sell cigarettes or alcohol, he said.

“I like going to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's,” Mr. Love, 37, said, “so we decided to bring the concept of a quaint, urban grocery boutique to the South Side.”

Fresh Family Foods opens amid concerns about urban food deserts, areas — predominantly in Chicago's South and West side neighborhoods — that lack fresh food choices. In this case, there's a Jewel about a mile and a half away. Still, grocers in the neighborhood are far outnumbered by convenience stores, which tend to charge higher prices for packaged foods without offering much in the way of produce.

And there's no place, Mr. Love said, that offers the sense of community he hopes Fresh Family Foods will bring.

“It's going to be a co-op environment that will be shopper-friendly,” he said. “It's one-stop shopping.”

According to Mr. Love, Fresh Family Foods is the only African American-owned grocery store in the state. Another such grocery, Farmers Best Market, opened in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in October 2008 but closed less than a year later.
The neighborhood is incorrectly referred to as Chatham. Not sure if this neighborhood would be referred to as Chesterfield since I'm not entirely certain how far south Chesterfield goes. And it isn't correct to refer to this area as West Chesterfield.

All the same, Chesterfield should talk to Mr. Love about taking over the former Food Basket location on 87th Street and King Drive.

Also it's great to know that the only Black-owned grocery store in Illinois is located in the 6th Ward once again. Let's hope Love is successful in this venture.

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