SOUTH SHORE — Wednesday morning’s tour of the future Shop & Save supermarket in Jeffery Plaza at 2101 E. 71st St. with Mayor Rahm Emanuel was a victory lap for Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).
“There were a lot of rumors, a lot of skepticism,” said Hairston. “‘Is this just a hoax? Is it just a ploy?’ This was a chance to prove to people that this is really happening, that there is something going on behind the boarded windows, that we’re actually getting a full-service, full-scale grocery store.”
Hairston, who narrowly won re-election in the April 2 runoff vote, has said her personal connections made the Shop & Save deal possible. Plans had been set in motion in 2018, but a delay in TIF approval stalled the project.
On Wednesday, Hairston said that 64 percent of the contractors involved in the construction are Minority Business Enterprise/Women’s Business Enterprise, with 40 percent coming from the neighborhood.
“That’s even before we begin doing the local hiring,” said Hairston.
Shop & Save owners Cezary and Eva Jakubowski were also on hand to survey the construction site, sharing artist renderings and their vision of what the store will look like once the debris settles. Cezary Jakubowski said that construction should be wrapped up by the end of summer.
“This will be a reflection of the neighborhood,” said Jakubowski, who added that the store’s artwork would be a celebration of South Shore, and the city itself. “We are rebranding ourselves a little bit to serve the local market, and to fit into the neighborhood. We want to remind customers of who we are and what we do.”
There will be a wine bar, a sushi bar and a dedicated space for patrons to meet, or catch up with friends. High school students will have the opportunity to show off their art skills on a wall just for them.
Wednesday’s sneak preview of the supermarket was a long time coming. The former Dominick’s site had been vacant since the grocery chain ceased operations in 2013. While other neighborhoods had little trouble finding grocers willing to move in, South Shore became a food desert.
Shop & Save will open this fall, making it the seventh Chicagoland location for the local chain, and the second South Side store.