By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
Customers rushed into the Jewel-Osco store at 6014 S. Cottage Grove Ave. as soon as it opened at 6 a.m. today. Families rushed in to pick up food and household items; friends and neighbors greeted each other in the aisles; eager employees helped them locate items.
Woodlawn’s new supermarket hosted a grand opening at 10 a.m., when the South Shore Drill Team performed, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Jewel’s eighth store on the South Side.
“The reason why the grocery store is here is because you see housing, a new train station, MetroSquash, a new school. [Jewel-Osco] wanted to be a part of something that is on the rise,” Emanuel said. “Woodlawn is winning again, after 40 years of a closed grocery store. Jobs are up. Graduation from high school is up. The population is up, and crime is down, and that tells you what is happening here in Woodlawn.”
“We couldn’t be more excited about the opening of the new Jewel-Osco,” said Aaron Gornstein, CEO and president of the group Preservation of Affordable Housing. “We’re proud to have worked with the City of Chicago and all of our neighborhood partners to turn a $30.5 million [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] grant into more than $410 million of public and private investments for new housing and businesses.”
“This new Jewel-Osco, along with many other businesses headed to Woodlawn Station and the rest of the neighborhood, stands as a national model of community renewal,” Gornstein said.
The 48,000-square-foot grocery store features a large selection of produce, a deli counter, ready-to-eat meals and a pharmacy with drive-thru window and consultation room. It is staffed by 300 hundred full- and part-time employees, about 200 of whom live in Woodlawn and surrounding South Side neighborhoods.
The store will partially fill the gap for Hyde Park that Treasure Island Foods left behind when it closed last fall.