ROGERS PARK — A corner grocery store could come to Howard Street in Rogers Park, and its prospective owner is asking the city to lift a packaged liquor moratorium on that stretch of the street.
Businessman Gaurav Patel wants to open Howard Street Fresh Market at 2033 W. Howard St., a nearly 4,000-square-foot store halfway between Clark Street and Ridge Boulevard that would stock fresh groceries and household essentials. Patel also wants to sell alcohol, but he needs the city to lift a liquor moratorium to do so.
Sales of packaged beer, wine and liquor would not make up more than 20 percent of the store’s sales, but the sales inclusion would help the store attract customers it might otherwise lose to bigger grocers in the area, Patel said.
Not all neighbors are on board with the plan to sell alcohol.
“I do understand it would be nice to have a store. I just don’t really like the alcohol aspect of it,” resident Bridgett McKenzie said at a community meeting on the proposed business. “I just don’t prefer to have the alcohol being so close to our neighborhood.”
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) held the community meeting last week to discuss lifting the liquor moratorium for the market. The moratorium spans Damen to Ridge avenues along Howard Street. A previous proposal for a liquor store at the vacant building at 2033 W. Howard St. was shot down by community members, but a grocery store could help the area, Hadden said.
“We need more business filled on that side of Howard Street,” Hadden said at the meeting. “Finding somebody who was interested in the grocery, that was a priority certainly over a liquor store.”
Howard Street Fresh Market would stock fresh produce, dairy products, grocery staples and household items, Patel said. It will have a meat counter, frozen section and an international foods section.
Bringing a grocery store to that stretch of Howard will help customers missed by grocery stores on Clark Street and in the suburbs, Patel said.
“The main reason behind this project, there is only one Jewel-Osco on this entire street,” he said at the meeting. “I got this idea and finally found the spot that I like.”
The store would also have a beer and wine selection, plus spirits that will be behind cashier counters. The idea is not to become a destination for alcohol sales but to become a one-stop shop for neighbors seeking to pick up items on their commutes, Patel said.
“It’s people that come to get into the store to buy regular daily needs, they want a nice bottle of wine or six-pack of beer, they don’t have to go to Jewel-Osco and they can come to us,” Patel said.
Other neighbors supported plans for the store, saying the business will help revitalize a stretch of Howard that just received a major streetscape rebuilding.
“I think this is absolutely a wonderful plan,” Ursula Gruber said. “I’m really frustrated my neighbors don’t seem to understand the economic cost-benefit analysis here. I would hope all of us agree that less reliance on a chain store is good.”
Hadden’s office is collecting community feedback on the request to lift the liquor moratorium. For more information on the project, watch the community meeting here. Fill out the survey by clicking here.
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