Northbrook shoppers look forward to Caputo plugging Dominick’s hole

NORTHBROOK — If you want an apple, and you can’t find one you like at a Joe Caputo & Sons Fruit Market, you are not trying.

A Tuesday morning, Jan. 28 visit to the Palatine store revealed 21 different kinds of apples on sale, at 89 cents a pound and up.

It was the morning after the 25-year-old grocery chain told the world via its Facebook page that it was taking over four of the Dominick’s stores shuttered last month in the following towns: Northbrook, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines and Elk Grove Village.

“That would be very cool,” said Rich Weiner, who lives a few blocks away from the old Northbrook Dominick’s, at 4125 Dundee Road in the Sanders Court shopping center.

“Good produce is very hard to find. That will be something to look forward to.”

Caputo has three stores now, at 959 East Oakton St. in Des Plaines, 100 South Randall Road in Algonquin and the Palatine store, at 2070 N. Rand Road. The Des Plaines store is expected to move to a newly-acquired former Dominick’s location at Oakton and Lee streets.

“Mainly, I come here for the produce,” said Sandy Smith of Palatine, walking through the Rand Road store. “They have a lot of it, and the prices are good.”

The produce section that day featured nine kinds of lettuce and at least four kinds of cabbage.

Palatine store manager Charlie Kim said that the store’s concepts morph depending on the clientele, and that will go for the new ones, too.

“Each store will be a little different,” he said. “This one is somewhat European. The one in Des Plaines tends toward the Italian.”

In the Palatine store, a single shelf featuring soft white cheese had products that spoke Bulgarian, Russian, Greek, Spanish and Pennsylvania Dutch.

That’s just the beginning of the cheese business at Caputo.

The Palatine store had a display case filled mostly with Caputo brand cheeses, heavy on the Italian types, from grated Romano to fresh balls of mozzarella.

The Caputo cheese line comes from the Wiscon Corporation, operated by a branch of the same family that operates the grocery chain. Wiscon distributes cheese, spices and other foods, and runs the Caputo Cheese Market stores, with locations in Melrose Park and Lake Forest.

The firm has a 200,000-square-foot facility in Melrose Park, which includes one of the stores, a warehouse and a cheese-aging facility. Other Wiscon warehouses are in San Francisco, Boston and Wisconsin.

“They have a real nice deli bushiness,” said Art Kubey, a Buffalo Grove resident shopping in the Palatine Caputo grocery. “Big selection, reasonable prices.”

Many of the cold cuts were priced at $5.99 per pound or lower. In the meat department, there were several different cuts of kinds of beef marked USDA Choice selling for less than $5 a pound.

“It would be nice to have options,” said Northbrook resident Mindy Rench. She said she dislikes fighting the traffic and the Skokie Boulevard parking lot in front of Garden Fresh Market and Trader Joe’s, “and it will be worse when Mariano’s comes in,” also on Skokie.

“And you hate to see a store like that empty.”

Northbrook Village President Sandy Frum agreed Tuesday. “I’m really pleased to welcome them to Northbrook,” she said. “It will be a nice addition.” She said everything she’d heard from constituents – mostly on social media – was positive.

For some of the people who work in and around Sanders Court, the loss of the Dominick’s has been a hardship, especially because it has been too cold to enjoy a walk at noon-time.

“I was sad,” said Jessica Hernandes of Sanders Court’s Sally Beauty Supply store. “I used to go shop there for my lunch.”

Birgit Mansfield, owner of the The Complete Dog canine grooming emporium across the street at 857 Sanders Road, lives in Glenbrook Countryside, between Northbrook and Deerfield. But she much preferred the Dominick’s near work to the Jewel store in Deerbrook Mall, near home.

“I just can never find what I’m looking for” at the Jewel, she said.

“This is going to be great. I’ll be very happy.”

The Sanders Court store, at 50,000 square feet, is bigger than many groceries, but smaller than most newer supermarkets, like the 71,000 square-foot Mariano’s Fresh Market that will be built this year at 770 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook. But many shoppers don’t like them so big, like Bruce Liebow, a long-time Sanders Court shopper.

“When I grocery-shop, I’m like a hunter,” he said Tuesday.

“I just get what I need, and get out.”

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