OLD TOWN — Dom’s Kitchen & Market, a small-footprint grocery store from Bob Mariano, opened its second location Tuesday in Old Town.
Shoppers flooded the store at 1233 N. Wells St. when it opened at 9 a.m., exploring its offerings of meats, produce and other groceries, plus its extensive selection of wines and alcohol and prepared meals for takeout.
At 27,000 square feet, the new Dom’s store is 50 percent larger than the first Dom’s location, which opened in June 2021 at 2730 N. Halsted St. in Lincoln Park. It has 12,000 items, many of which are globally inspired, seasonally driven and locally sourced from Chicago and the larger Midwest, according to Dom’s leaders.
“As we continue to grow Dom’s, we remain true to our vision, which is to offer well-crafted, locally sourced and globally inspired food in an interactive environment,” said Dom’s co-CEO Don Fitzgerald. “This is a space of discovery and generous hospitality that connects people to their community and to one another.”
The Old Town store offers similar services and items as the first store, including produce, which is delivered daily; meat and seafood, a wine library; and cheese and charcuterie with more than 300 cheeses.
There’s also a bakery with a store-made cake program, a pantry with nuts and grains that can be bought in bulk with reusable containers and a floral section. The store has kitchens where shoppers can buy pre-made meals to eat in the store or take home.
Essential to the Dom’s experience is its focus on customer service, said Bob Mariano, co-founder, co-CEO and co-chairman of Dom’s.
“Customer service is our calling card,” Mariano said. “We take pride in our people, they in turn take pride in their work and you leave Dom’s knowing you were served with a smile.”
Dom’s is led by Mariano, who founded Mariano’s after serving as CEO of Roundy’s and Dominick’s; Jay Owen of Dom Capital Group, a venture investor in food technology and next-generation commerce; and Fitzgerald, a former senior executive at Dominick’s, Roundy’s and Mariano’s.
Dom’s Kitchen & Market is on track to expand to 15 stores by 2025, its leaders said.
The Old Town Dom’s store fills a hole left by Plum Market, an independent grocery store that closed this summer after its lease was “terminated.”
Plum Market CEO Matt Jonna sent an email to its customers February — after the new Dom’s store was announced — claiming the business was pushed out of the neighborhood after a “back-door agreement” was made between its landlord and Dom’s executives.
“I want to be clear that this was not in our plan and that we were handed this information entirely by surprise,” Jonna wrote. “In fact, we have invested in excess of $1,000,000 into improvements and renovations to the space since its opening, and had no intention of closing our doors to this wonderful community.”
Jonna declined comment at the time, but he wrote he never had a chance to negotiate with the landlord to keep the store open.
“It is worth noting that when we caught wind of these negotiations, purely by luck, we specifically asked our landlord to discuss keeping our lease and we did not receive a response to our request,” Jonna wrote.
Plum Market had been a part of the Old Town community for nearly nine years after the store opened in June 2013, and it became known for supporting local vendors and artisans.
Jonna also criticized Mariano’s decision to pursue Plum Market’s location as “unconscionable, dishonorable and disgusting.”
“Dom’s actions certainly cast a dark shadow on independent grocers,” Jonna said. “In fact, presidents and CEOs of other local independent groceries have reached out to me personally to express their shock and dismay that Bob Mariano, a grocer that I respected until recently, and the owners of Dom’s, would hit with such a low blow.”
Dom’s leaders called Jonna’s claims as an “ill-founded interpretation” of the grocery store’s move into Old Town. Dom’s was approached about the availability of the Old Town storefront and reached an agreement with the landlord, they said in a statement.
“As an independent grocer ourselves, we know all too well the challenges of operating in this competitive environment,” Dom’s leaders said. “Our intentions have always been to grow into neighborhoods where we can continue to expand the rich and meaningful food experience we provide.”
Dom’s Kitchen & Market is open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
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