Jewel Osco opens Woodlawn neighborhood's new full-service grocery store

WOODLAWN -- Excitement on the city's south side Thursday, where a new Jewel Osco opened its doors.

Until now, people in that area had to travel about two miles or more to shop for food.

Woodlawn resident Myra Guy couldn't be happier as the community welcomes the opening the new grocery store.

"By this being right across the street from two senior buildings, it will be a real convenience for us," Guy said.

It's the first new full-service grocery store the neighborhood has seen in over 40 years. Woodlawn residents Adam Spaulding and Kashy Shyne said it's about time.

"I think its best that there are more options in Woodlawn," Spaulding stated.

"It's nice, especially for people who don't have a car having to ride the bike in the winter, so we're a little bit closer to home," Shyne added.

The new 48-thousand square foot multi-million dollar grocery store opened at the corner of 61st and Cottage Grove, is in an area which is considered a food desert.

"This new grocery store would be contributing to the growth and development of a proud and historic community," developer Leon Walker said.

Before the ribbon cutting ceremony, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked about how the store had been in the works since 2017.

"You have a grocery store, a squash youth center, a new train station, new housing, new restaurants, this is Woodlawn winning," Mayor Emanuel proclaimed.

Besides the fresh and organic produce, the shop has an indoor café, and hot and cold bars.

The grocery store also created hundreds of jobs.

"We have over 200 employees that we hired. Most of them are right from this area," Jewel-Osco President, Paul Gossett said.

19-year-old Robert Hopkins, who was unemployed until now, is one of those new employees.

"This is a perfect opportunity for me," Hopkins said.

And with around 30 local vendors stocking the shelves of Jewel, African American suppliers, like South Holland based Signature Sweets Factory, hope to have a major economic impact.

"We have gotten so many new customers and everyone is just supportive and behind us," said Marilyn Freeman with Signature Sweets Factory.

The store has been packed since it opened Thursday morning. Shoppers said they're hoping this Jewel is the start of great things for the Woodlawn neighborhood.