NORTHBROOK, Ill. (WLS) -- The grocery store has evolved quite a bit over the past ten years.
Today, several stores not only sell packaged food, they also have coffee bars, restaurants and other unique features, designed to keep shoppers around longer. There's a new prototype near the border of suburban Northbrook and Glenview where the term "grocery shopping" takes on new meaning.
Just when you thought you'd seen it all in grocery stores, Bob Mariano comes along and reinvents the experience. The 32nd Mariano's recently opened up near the North Shore and it's a far cry from the grocery stores you probably remember as a kid.
The well-trained barista, checking on the freshly-roasted coffee beans, used to be limited to the small, independent operator. But this micro-roaster and cold brew shop happens to be located in the massive new Mariano's store, on the edge of Northbrook and Glenview, part of the company's new strategy.
"The lines are starting to blur. And so we're getting more into the restaurant business than we were or had been. We believe that will continue in the future, customers are looking for that type of alternative to either dine-in here or take it home and eat it at their kitchen tables," Mariano said.
Within 20 feet of each other, there's a solid barbecue stand, smoking pork shoulder and brisket all day; a wine bar with lots of local craft brews, a gelato shop making hand-dipped pops before your eyes and a serious cheese and cured meats store within-a-store, where the staff knows their prosciutto from their provolone.
"That's the way you get better, by training the people to know more about the product than the customers, so they can educate the customers, and that's how the customers then can enjoy and absorb more of what we can sell them," Mariano said.
There's also a Street Market section featuring artisan producers rarely seen at the mass market level.
"We wanted to call them out so customers could see them, kind of displayed uniquely and get an opportunity to learn about them - why are they unique, why are they special, what makes them different," he said.
Plus, more interactive displays, where customers can see their food prepared, or even customized.
"We gotta add a little slice of entertainment. A slice, because it can't be hokey, people won't believe it and it's not the business we're in. But we want to entertain them with food; how do you do that, how do you enjoy it, how do you do it in a social setting - that's what it's about," Mariano said.
2323 Capital Dr., Northbrook
Store hours: 6 a.m. -10 p.m. daily
New Mariano's store takes grocery experience to new level
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