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Letter: Selling good food to good people

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

To the Editor:

My great-grandmother was an Italian grocer who opened a fruit store in St. Charles around the same time that Dominick DiMatteo opened a similar fruit and meat deli in Chicago. Within the grocery industry, Dominick was known as an operator who understood, and lived with and for the people he served. He understood that a grocer, unlike most other business people, has an inherently unique connection to the community because he doesn’t sell merchandise, he sells food. Food that is taken into the homes of his neighbors and served in recipes that often have been passed down from generation to generation. In this way, Dominick’s was a family business, even after it was sold to Safeway. So it is no surprise that so many Chicagoland families feel a personal loss by the closing of such a traditional part of their own lives.

There has been a lot of speculation as to how the grocery industry might try to fill this void. Will it be another big box operator with bulk-rate prices, or a smaller specialty store with quality that’s impossible to mass produce? In a region as diverse as Chicagoland, either is a likely possibility. What’s certain though, grocers in Chicago only have success when they commit to selling good food to good people, not managing data on a spreadsheet. The successor to Dominick’s legacy will be a grocer who serves its neighbors rather than sells to consumers. It will be one that, as my family has taught for generation, “feeds your family well.” For this, we will all be better off and the tradition of Dominick’s will live on.

Paul Lencioni

President. Blue Goose MarketSt. Charles

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