New Mariano's opening in Bronzeville Tuesday

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Monday, October 10, 2016
New Mariano's coming to Bronzeville
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The newest Marianos in Chicago is getting ready for opening day.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city's newest Mariano's grocery store is almost ready to open its doors on the South Side.

The grand opening for the new Bronzeville store is Tuesday at 6 a.m.

Stephen Lenoir is the director of Chicago's newest grocery store in Bronzeville. Born and raised in the city, he knows residents struggle to find quality food that's close and affordable.

"It gives them a place to gather, a place to meet, a place to get great products, fresh foods," said Lenoir.

But this Mariano's doesn't quite look or feel like the others and that's the way founder Bob Mariano wanted it.

"We wanted to make this feel like home, like Bronzeville," Mariano said.

Along with the store's signature live piano music, Mariano said there will be, "Gospel, blues, jazz, vocalists, I would like to see some children, some children's choirs."

Mariano said he drove by the location at King Drive and Pershing Road and knew right off the bad he wanted to build there.

Residents know the location well. One of Chicago's oldest black housing projects used to be there. Ravaged by gangs, drugs and violence, the Ida B. Wells Homes were torn down and the land sat vacant.

"We wanted to build something here that has the ability to sustain itself for a long period of time. Not in three or four years it gets into disrepair, it's got to go away and the community is left empty again," Mariano said.

Outside, Muhammad Ali, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and dozens of others who are part of Bronzeville's rich history are mounted around the 75,000 square foot store. The store for the most part was built and designed by an all-black team, something Mariano insisted on.

"I believe if we're going to make a difference in this world, you got to do it. You can't talk it, you just got to do it and then people see it and they see the example and that speaks volumes and then they know how to follow," said Mariano.

Mariano retired in September 2016, but wanted to share how much the new store in Bronzeville meant to him.