Sunset Foods is remodeling its Lake Forest, Illinois, location. The remodel demonstrates Sunset’s dedication to providing the Lake Forest community with an extraordinary shopping experience.
“We’re always seeking to innovate and improve,” says John Cortesi, Sunset Foods’ President and CEO. “Coupled with Sunset’s tradition of exemplary customer service, this remodel will allow Sunset to create a shopping environment that truly stands out… we’re thrilled to continue to invest in this location and the larger Lake Forest community.”
‘Clean, fun-to-shop stores’ are a key part of Sunset’s mission statement. Each element of the remodel was carefully conceived to enhance the entire shopping experience. Not only will the remodel broaden Sunset’s selection of fresh, local products, it will also expand in-store dining options and emphasize one-of-a-kind offerings. These include:
As a convenience to customers, the store will remain open during the remodel, which is slated to begin in early April of 2017. Sunset recognizes that remodels can be challenging. The Sunset team promises to do everything possible to make this a seamless transition.
About Sunset Foods
Sunset Foods is a privately owned neighborhood supermarket dedicated to making grocery shopping a pleasurable experience by providing the finest customer service possible and by offering an outstanding selection (of food, liquor, floral arrangements, and more) at competitive prices. From its modest beginnings in 1937, Sunset has expanded considerably and now employs approximately 900 employees at its stores in Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Long Grove and Northbrook. Sunset is committed to giving back to the communities it serves. In addition to exceptional service and a wide variety of foods—including gourmet, ethnic, specialty, and organic items—Sunset also offers its customers a selection of cooking classes and demonstrations, free nutrition store tours, and many other great events.
Novak Construction Company representatives stood proudly next to its Whole Foods partners on March 22 for the unveiling of a new Whole Foods Market at the historic intersection of Ashland-Belmont-Lincoln (3201 N. Ashland Avenue), signaling the return to a bustling corner punctuated by commerce, commuters and community.
The highly anticipated opening featured 44th Ward Alderman, Tom Tunney and Department of Building & Planning Commissioner, David L. Reifman, and Whole Foods Market Regional President, Michael Bashaw. 47th Ward Alderman, Ameya Pawar, also attended alongside Novak leadership, John G. Novak and Michael W. Kanzler.
Noted Novak’s Founder/President, John Novak, “By activating this vacant site with such a long-term tenant commitment, Whole Foods Market enhances the community and accommodates the needs of its residents, in addition to ushering in an era of new activity and new jobs at this location. I am sure this store will inspire a new vitality in this neighborhood – from morning until night. We are very honored to be a part of that.”
A large portion of the three primary building facades is covered with an innovative LiveWall greenspace that softens the building’s sleek architecture, while providing greenery along the busy pedestrian corridors. The Lobby includes a full-service roastery for Allegro coffee, which is sold at many Chicagoland Whole Foods stores. To enhance customers’ enjoyment, the second-story retail level includes a wine bar, pub, juice bar, arcade, a Wrigley Field nook and a “porch.” Finally, the construction incorporated “SMART Park” for its 300 indoor parking spaces to facilitate the flow and reduce traffic congestion.
The multiple phases of the actual construction presented the chief challenge for the team. With zero lot line with which to work, Project Director Steve Bykowski cited incredible coordination as his team worked on the basement, ground floor and second floor simultaneously. “However, everything transitioned seamlessly and we hit the target opening date.”
An extensive collaboration across a swath of city officials and community members went into this project as well. Key team members of Novak Construction worked with several key constituencies over a one-year period that included Ald. Tunney, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), St. Luke’s Pastor David Abrahamson, the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and the West Lakeview Neighbors Association.
By Lorrie Baumann
When Larry Ehlers started working at his local grocery store in Brown Deer, Wisconsin after his return from World War II, it was the kind of neighborhood grocery that sold everything that the neighborhood families really needed from day to day in about 3,000 square feet of selling space. Then times changed, local roads gave way to superhighways, the small village of Brown Deer became a suburb of Milwaukee, and big box stores entered into the grocery marketplace.
Larry’s Market changed with the times by evolving into a specialty grocer. Its produce and meat departments have been eliminated in favor of prepared foods that cater to the lunchtime needs of the workers employed in the nearby office buildings, a highly regarded specialty cheese market makes the store a destination for tourists looking for the best of Wisconsin cheeses, and a busy catering department now provides more than half the store’s revenue.
“It’s an old, old grocery store, but it’s a charming building,” said Patty Peterson, the Manager of Larry’s Market and the daughter of Larry himself. “We’re not on the highway. We’re on the byway…. We don’t have a thousand people walking in front of our store each day.”
After his return from the war, Larry Ehlers worked for the store for years before he finally bought it in 1970. His son, Steve Ehlers, bought the store from him in the late 1980s, and Steve’s wife became the owner upon Steve’s death in 2016.
Around 1971, Peterson’s parents had become fans of French cheeses after their introduction to them at a Summer Fancy Food Show. After tasting some of those cheeses at the show, Larry placed an order. A few days after the cheese was delivered to the store, it was gone, sold to upscale customers who’d learned to appreciate traditional French cheeses during their travels overseas. Larry continued ordering. “Of course my father is the consummate salesman. He can still sell like nobody’s business,” Peterson said. “He still comes in three days a week.”
Steve carried on that romance with French cheeses as he traveled in Europe in the 1970s for his own version of the Grand Tour once made by Victorian gentlemen to broaden their horizons as they started out on their lives as independent adults. “He loved France,” Peterson said.
Steve and his father decided to start carrying artisanal American cheeses in the store after Mike Gingrich of Uplands Cheese won the American Cheese Society’s Best of Show Award for Pleasant Ridge Reserve, and today, the cheese counter with its 200 to 300 cheeses in it is a destination for travelers who come to Larry’s Market just to buy their cheese.
Most of the business rung up by the store’s 15 full and regular part-time employees, though, comes either at lunchtime or through the store’s catering business. The regular Friday grill-out events are also huge draws that bring 250 to 300 people into the store over the course of a couple of hours.
All told, the deli and catering departments represent about 60 to 70 percent of the business today. “We do a lot of corporate catering, so on any given day, we’ll have five people out delivering, and we can do 400 to 500 people for lunch, just catering,” Peterson said.
The typical lunchtime purchase for the 100 to 150 people who usually come in then is about $12 to $15, although customers will frequently spend $40 to $50 at a time if they’re also buying groceries and cheese. Among the most popular offerings are killer brownies, Wisconsin artisan cheeses and fresh soups, including the turkey chili that’s a particular favorite among Larry’s regulars. “We sell a ton of soup, summer and winter,” Peterson said. “Our local health inspector comes in for lunch quite often.”
dunnhumby has announced that Whole Foods Market, Inc. has selected the company to provide customer data and insights to help evolve Whole Foods Market’s category management and merchandising.
dunnhumby is working with Whole Foods Market to apply its customer data models to make store-level merchandising decisions based on specific customer needs. Data-driven, customer-led insights will enable Whole Foods Market to create the shopping experiences customers want. As product choices and preferences change and vary by location, the dunnhumby data will provide customers with the most relevant shopping experience, according to the company.
“dunnhumby has the ability to understand customers and turn that into action,” said Don Clark, Global Vice President of Purchasing for Non-Perishables at Whole Foods Market. “This partnership allows us to keep innovating our shopping experience for the customer in a way that’s most relevant to them and reflects how they want to shop in each local community.”
“Whole Foods Market is renowned for delighting customers with extraordinary shopping experiences and customer service, which makes them an ideal partner,” said Andrew Hill, Managing Director North America at dunnhumby. “We’re thrilled to be working with a retailer as respected and innovative as Whole Foods Market, helping them continue to improve shopping experiences for their loyal and passionate customers.
Natural Grocers will open a new store in South Jordan, Utah next spring, bringing 18 jobs to the community. Natural Grocers employs more than 3,000 people and operates 130 stores in 19 states. The new South Jordan store is located at 10622 S Redwood Rd and is approximately 15,000 square feet in size.
Natural Grocers will be hiring store leadership, department managers, cashiers and a Nutritional Health Coach. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age. Applicants can apply for consideration at https://www.naturalgrocers.com/about/careers/.
Zingerman’s Creamery has entered into a new partnership with World’s Best Cheeses. The specialty food distributor directly delivers some of the best cheeses, crackers, oils, chocolates and meats from around the world to gourmet retail markets, and now those offerings include Zingerman’s small-batch artisan cheeses made in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This will be the first time the Creamery has had major distribution on the East Coast.
“We’re honored to be represented on the East Coast by World’s Best Cheeses,” says Zingerman’s co-Founder Ari Weinzweig. “Their distribution network will allow us to get our cheeses to specialty shops, restaurants, caterers and cafes without having to have them incur shipping costs from the Midwest.”
Since 2001, Zingerman’s Creamery has specialized in soft-ripened cheeses, employing a combination of Old World techniques and creative innovation to draw out full, complex flavor. The cow and goat milk used is sourced from a select group of small, regional farmers to secure the highest quality product. The collaboration with World’s Best Cheeses, a leader in the specialty food industry that has been family owned and operated for over 30 years and currently has offices in New York, Massachusetts, and California, is a natural and welcomed fit for both companies.
“We have always admired and respected Zingerman’s business and philosophy, and these delicious cheeses have been on our radar for some time,” says Stephen Gellert, ACS-CCP, Vice President of Business Development for World’s Best Cheeses. “We are very excited to finally be working together!”
World’s Best Cheeses is currently distributing Zingerman’s Creamery Detroit Street Brick, Chestnut Little Napoleon, Manchester, Liptauer, and Aged Chelsea. Full descriptions of each cheese can be found in the Cheese section at www.zingermanscreamery.com.
By Lorrie Baumann
Murray’s Cheese has introduced a brand new cheese into the American market. Annelies starts with an Appenzeller-type cheese made in Switzerland by Walter Räss of Kaserie Tufertschwil. Räss makes the cheese, ages it in Switzerland for a couple of months and then ships the wheels to Murray’s Cheese in New York, where it’s aged on wood, its rind washed weekly with purified water, for a minimum of nine more months. “The cheese is very pliable early, without a whole lot of depth of flavor. As it ages, around the 13-month mark, we’re getting a lot of the tropical fruit [flavor notes], the salt is more concentrated, and you get more depth from the savory flavors,” said Steve Millard, Murray’s Cheese Vice President of Merchandising and Foodservice.
Murray’s will be the only shop selling the cheese outside the Räss’ village of St. Gallen in Switzerland. The Annelies name comes from Räss’ wife, who shares the name. It’ll be available at Murray’s New York stores and online throughout the year, as supplies allow. “It’s a good amount of cheese, but I fully anticipate us selling through it pretty quickly,” Millard said.
The collaboration responsible for the cheese started with a visit. “The cheesemaker came and visited the [Murray’s] caves a couple of years ago and had a conversation with our cave master,” Millard said. “The two of them really hit it off and got into a discussion about taking some of Walter’s cheeses at a young stage. He went back to Switzerland, and two months later, we got a couple of wheels of cheese wrapped in paper.”
“We had room in our cave, and we knew from aging Tarentaise that we get from Springbrook that our Alpine cave was developing some really good flavors,” he added. “We wanted to do it, in general, because we didn’t really have any Alpine cheeses that we were aging from a green stage…. We’ve always operated an Alpine cave, but we had previously been taking existing cheeses and aging them further.”
Murray’s cave master set the two wheels from Räss on a wood shelf and wash the rind every week for a year. “Walter came back in July, 2015 and tasted the cheese that had been in the cave for a year. He was totally blown away,” Millard said. “He instantly agreed to send us 30 wheels a month.”
The cheese is now part of Murray’s Cheese’s exclusive Cave Master line, which also includes Greensward. Greensward, a collaboration between Murray’s Cheese and Jasper Hill, shared third place honors with Jeffs’ Select Gouda in the best of show category at this year’s American Cheese Society Annual Judging & Competition. Greensward starts with Jasper Hill’s Harbison and is then washed with cider as it ages in Murray’s Affinage Caves.
By Lorrie Baumann
As both a retailer and a wholesale meat processor, Rastelli Foods Group is in prime position to observe how the American grocery landscape is evolving. Rastelli Foods Group supplies meat in the wholesale market to grocers and meal kit delivery services up and down the East Coast of the U.S., provides meat for U.S. military installations overseas, ships directly to consumers across the U.S. and operates two New Jersey specialty grocery stores, a 6,000-square foot store originally opened in Deptford as Rastelli’s Meat Stop and then remodeled and reopened five years ago as Rastelli Market Fresh and a new 40,000 square-foot specialty grocer in Marlton.
Ray Rastelli, III is the company’s Vice President and son of the Founder who started Rastelli Meat Stop about 40 years ago and grew it into one of the premier meat suppliers on the East Coast. His father, also Ray Rastelli, is still very active in the business and likely to be recognized by the QVC shoppers who see him pitching fresh and frozen meats four to six times a week on their televisions. The QVC sales are part of a direct-to-consumer mail-order operation that delivers 50,000 to 60,000 packages, mainly fresh and frozen meat and seafood products, both to those QVC shoppers and to customers who come directly to the company’s website. “We started our e-commerce platform in 2009,” Rastelli says. “For the first few years, we sold a few thousand packages a month. Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a significant, significant increase.”
From this vantage point, Ray Rastelli, 33, is seeing a trend that’s corroborated by marketing researchers. U.S. government figures document that about half of Americans’ food dollars are now spend on food prepared in restaurants, and even when Americans eat at home, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing the same kind of cooking that their grandmothers did. “The biggest thing I see that’s really changing in the past two years is the evolution of the at-home delivery companies,” Rastelli said.
“Some of the retailers we work with are trying to come out with their own version of that – meal kits right at the front of the store. Those companies are definitely taking market share.” According to market research firm Packaged Facts, there are now more than 150 meal delivery kit services operating in the U.S. and over the past few years, these businesses have raised more than $650 million in venture capital. Most of these meal kit delivery services are targeting young professionals and families with children who live in urban areas.
Americans between the ages of 25 and 55 are increasingly comfortable ordering their food online, and and cooking it at home, often in the form of meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Women now spend less than an hour a day on food preparation and cleanup, while men still spend an average of less than half an hour a day working in the kitchen, according to 2015 statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Rastelli says his company’s online customers tend to be foodies who care about the quality of the food they’re getting. “They’re definitely people who are really engaged in food, not people who are just looking to put something on the plate,” he said.
He says they’re increasingly likely to see organic and all-natural foods as healthier options. “Five years ago, organic and all-natural would be one one hundredth of the business,” he said. “These days, it’s between 30 to 45 percent of the product we manufacture.”
Rastelli, who started work sweeping floors in his father’s business when he was 10 years old, then became a regular employee on the night shift while he was a sophomore in high school, now sees these trends playing out in the company’s two retail stores. The original Rastelli Market Fresh was converted from a 6,000-foot Rastelli’s Meat Stop store five years ago. Designed as a kind of hybrid between Whole Foods and the previous store, but with a lot of prepared options, the business at the new store inspired the company to expand with a second, bigger location in Marlton, New Jersey, about a half-hour drive from Philadelphia.
The new Rastelli Market Fresh is more of a prepared food store with a pantry of specialty items than a full-service grocer, with almost half of its business professional customers stopping in to eat in the store rather than purchase a basket of food to take home and cook. The store includes several made-to-order restaurant-type concepts – there’s no hot-line buffet – including a pizza stand, sushi restaurant, a taqueria and a Craftwich sandwich shop. Customers order from any of the concepts and the store’s deli counter from a self-service kiosk that prints out a ticket for the customer, who waits only about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes for a meal that’s made from scratch. “It’s set the world on fire in that area,” Rastelli said. “It’s been beyond our expectations.”
Of the 20,000 customers a week who come through the store and check out with an average $38 purchase, fully 9,000 to 10,000 of them came to eat at the 150-seat cafe/lounge or to pick up a single meal to take home with them. According to research reported by the Washington Post in 2015, less than 60 percent of suppers served at home in 2014 were actually cooked at home, and although that trend stalled a bit during the recession, Americans began picking up takeout again as the economy improved.
The single most popular concept in the Marlton Rastelli Market Fresh store is a create-a-plate offering in which customers select a protein from several choices that might include a chicken breast, a filet mignon, a grilled salmon portion and a lamb chop and then add two sides from a menu of 10 selections to put together a total customized meal priced at $8.99. The concept has lines of customers waiting every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Rastelli said. “We package it up for them and off they go.”
The retail stores also act as a product development lab for products offered by the company’s online and wholesale operations.
For instance, recipes for pre-marinated steaks and chicken breasts, which are extremely popular items, are pilot-tested in the retail stores, where Rastelli and other family members will spend time on the weekends talking to customers about whether they like what they’re eating. If not, the recipe goes back for more work until there’s general agreement that the company has a really good product before it’s mass-marketed to Rastelli’s online customers and to other grocery retailers. “We’re finding that grocery stores are just shifting to what people are looking for. “People still have to eat,” Rastelli said. “We try to cater to business professionals who are in a jam and trying to get dinner for their families because they worked late.”