Friday, January 25, 2008

Real Goddam Progress

posted by Elizabeth Fama

Hyde Park Produce opened its doors on Wednesday, Jan. 23rd in the Kimbark Plaza -- in the space (Otto and) I like to call Mr. G's but in its most recent incarnation was actually the Co-Op Express.

The banner over the deli at the new Hyde Park Produce proclaims Welcome...to our Dream!, and a lot of love has clearly gone into this store. It's orderly, it's clean, and it's well-stocked. There are seemingly dozens of employees buzzing around like bees, and smiling ear to ear at the customers, nearly giddy with pride. It's a sight to behold.

It was difficult for me to take a photo there, because the store was quite crowded, and I didn't feel right posting a snapshot of innocent bystanders.

The store feels spacious, and it's well laid out. There is, of course, a ton of produce. But there's also a deli counter with a variety of desserts, pre-made salads, and side-dishes. There are two small refrigerated meat cases in the back of the store, with fresh chicken, fish, and beef. There are freezers with frozen vegetables, pizzas, and ice creams. There's a dairy section with organic milks, cheeses, eggs, and yogurt. There's a shelf for artisanal bread (Labriola), but it was a little sparse today. And there are about three "grocery" aisles (pastas, jams, kosher items, canned goods, imported foods, bottled water). You can get almost anything you need here (other than paper goods, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, which you can get at CVS or Walgreens.)

As with the "old" Hyde Park Produce, I saw some spottiness in the freshness department. The bok choy was dead today. There were wilted heads of lettuce. The asparagus had dried and shriveled. And before you get your hopes up about doing all of your shopping there, I thought the prices for grocery items were high. A bottle of San Pellegrino is $3.79. Bonne Maman jams are $4.99 -- more than a dollar higher than University Market. A block of Mozzarella is $5.08. A 34 oz. bottle of Colivata extra virgin olive oil is $19.99.

In fact, here are some impulse purchases I made (granted, I have expensive taste), and the total came to $45.71.


Hyde Park Produce Loot


I am looking forward to seeing if those San Marzano Italian tomatoes are as good as the delightful imported brand that I buy at Costco.

And just to whet your appetite for more progress...


This is how the Co-Op is dressed today.

Here's what Treasure Island promises us, among other things, in their Message to the Hyde Park Community: a "bountiful" salad bar; a full-service butcher (with dry-aged meats) and fish monger; "homemade" prepared foods; imported cheeses, pates, and prosciutto; artisan breads; made-to-order floral arrangements; and an extensive catering menu.

From the Hyde Park Herald we learn TI will have even more (did I hear the magic words "Belgian Chocolate case?"), including a sushi bar, a juice bar, a conventional and organic salad bar, and an ice cream bar. Who knew you do could all that with 35,000 square feet?

If it's true: deep sigh.

26 comments:

LPB said...

Woo-hoo!! I'm looking forward to checking out the new Hyde Park Produce this weekend. It looks very nice.

chicago pop said...

Sweet.

Elizabeth Fama said...

I added a bit at the bottom of the post to indicate what Treasure Island says it will offer when it opens the new store. Meant to include it the first time but forgot.

Richard Gill said...

For what it's worth (and that ain't much), you can still go into the Co-op building, as the post office and credit union are still in business, in the basement (at least as of January 25). Once inside the building, you can only go to the basement; entrance to the store is boarded up. I mailed a package at the post office this afternoon and asked the clerk when they are moving into their new storefront location in the shopping center. He said the date hasn't been announced.

I got out of there immediately; I thought I heard a Save-the-Coop rally in progress, in the meeting room.

bornatreese said...

The store is great. Now I want everyone here to get a wheeled cart and walk your groceries home because parking at Kimbark Plaza going to be impossible. And that could make or break this.

Peter Rossi said...

beth-

can you describe the produce available in the new store? Is there more variety than old? Unique items? Comparable to WF in variety? Better?

chicago pop said...

I got out of there immediately; I thought I heard a Save-the-Coop rally in progress, in the meeting room.

Richard, I'm glad you got out while you could; you might have been witness to something out of Dawn of the Dead. Zombies usually hang out in malls of some sort.

chicago pop said...

Yay! TI has a fishmonger! (one word or two?)

Matthew said...

There was also a brief article in the the Herald about the new gourmet place that's going in up on 47th. Says they're aiming for May.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Matthew, the new gourmet store at 1126 E. 47th (Zaleski & Horvath) is also included in an article in the Chicago Tribune series about the developments planned in the Cottage Grove Corridor. There's some cross-over between the items promised by HP Produce, Treasure Island, and Z&H...which is great. Momma always told me that competition improves quality and lowers prices (hmm...or was that Poppa?)

Peter, there was quite a nice variety of items, some exotic, at the new produce store -- I'd say comparable to Whole Foods in variety. But as I said, the freshness was a little spottier.

J/tati said...

I too found it interesting which product sectors the new shop chose to expand into: lots of pre-packaged organics and import items, anticipating TI I guess. There were seven flavors of kefir when I was there, ten "natural" cereals, a new and much bigger bulk coffee display, and over two dozen high end cheeses... also, regarding the olive oil, there's a big display of 32oz extra virgin on sale near the door for $4.99 if I recall correctly.

SR said...

I was pretty happy to spot a number of not-so-obscure-as-all-that ingredients that I usually have to get muled down here by friends with better local grocery stores (Mexican and Italian chorizo, pancetta, rose flower water and orange flower water, that kind of Mexican cheese that's good on quesadillas that I can't remember the name of).

They didn't seem to have a spice section or a flour section stocked yet (I saw a few bags of King Arthur whole wheat next to a big empty area on the shelves) so I'm nurturing a number of little hopes about those categories.

But yeah, it's a bit spendy. It would be kind of odd if we ended up with 3 chi-chi groceries in the neighborhood and only Village Foods for staples. (The TI ad I saw seemed to be promising to fill that niche also, though.)

I'm also hoping it'll be the kind of place where you can just ask for stuff you want and maybe they'll start stocking it, like it was when Mr. G ran the store.

Elizabeth Fama said...

By the way, lest my friends think I've become a potty-mouth, the title of this post references a new label that Chicago Pop snuck into his January 15th post announcing that Treasure Island was taking over the Co-Op space. My children know I would never swear.

chicago pop said...

Hey, I'll take the heat for being the potty-mouth on the blog. Or anything else.

Rosemary said...

Just watching how excited the customers are in Hyde Park Produce is fun to watch. Their produce looked great to me and, yes, there were additional produce items that were not in the old store. The deli counter is great. You can't do better than Boar's Head. Their prepared foods looked good. They are carrying Sabra Hummos which is incredible! I think there's room in HP for both HPP and TI. HPP has a real following, only to get stronger in the 6 weeks before TI opens. How many think it will really open in 6 weeks?

chicago pop said...

Just watching how excited the customers are in Hyde Park Produce is fun to watch.

Absolutely. I had a hallucination that I was on the North Side. There were loads of people I had never seen before. Everyone looked less bedraggled. The cash registers were singing. People were fighting for parking spaces. Yes!

Peter Rossi said...

W. C. Fields' approach to the "potty mouth" (I hate that expression) problem:

Goddamn become "Godfrey Daniel"

Godfrey Daniel's Progress doesn't sound right, though.

guess what "mother of pearl" meant!

Peter Rossi said...

In fairness to UM, I think they have old Boar's Head items behind the deli counter if you can get attention of their counterpeople.

Peter Rossi said...

oops, became not "become"

Otto said...

It would be kind of odd if we ended up with 3 chi-chi groceries in the neighborhood and only Village Foods for staples.

Just try to get some Ballantine Ale around here these days! (The Tiki used to keep a box of the rebus caps behind the bar.)

EdJ said...

I've been there twice this week and I have to say that I am reserving judgement on it until the Hyde Park grocery situation is more settled. The lines are Co-op like in length although the people working there are very friendly in an un-Co-op like way. They know they are being stampeded by shoppers and want to try to make a long waiting situation better. Still means we're going through Peapod or Rossevely Raod for most of our shopping for now.

Famac said...

They have Nutella at Coscto, Bethy.

Katie said...

It's nice, but their meat prices are insane.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Katie,
Maybe the meat prices at Hyde Park Produce will drop when TI opens. Also, as I remember, they were stocking only organic meats, right?

Rosemary said...

Do you think that if Marc Monaghan had not taken pictures of the new Hyde Park Produce and given them to the Herald that the Herald would even had reported on their opening at all????

Elizabeth Fama said...

I like Marc's homage of my blog photo, with the "Welcome to...our Dream" banner in the background.

;-)