Residents of Forest Park and the surrounding communities will be in for a “fresh” surprise when they visit the newly opened Living Fresh Market in Forest Park Plaza on Roosevelt Road. The result of months of detailed planning, Living Fresh promises to be far more than a typical neighborhood grocery store.
Living Fresh Market will offer shoppers hundreds of varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh seafood, a bakery, a butcher shop, a soup and salad station, a juice bar and a convenient, prepared foods section with freshly made sandwiches and a grilling station to name just a few offerings.
Living Fresh Market is the creative venture of Chicago-area businessmen and third-generation grocers Daniel Casaccio and his brother Kenneth, whose grandfather started Leamington Foods in Chicago in 1923.
“Ever since I was a kid, I just loved the grocery business, just loved it my entire life,” shared Dan. “I’ve always felt like the future of this business is cooked foods, fresh produce, and catering. I’m focused on going to our suppliers at 4 o’clock in the morning and selecting fresh produce so that we get the best food available.”
Dan said he plans to be in the store almost every day to ensure that his team is delivering the kind of shopping experience and food quality they have promised. He said he plans to be very “hands-on.”
“We’re touching every ethnicity and nationality in the surrounding neighborhoods,” Casaccio said. “International flags will be located throughout the store to give the feel of an international market.”
The abundance of fresh items, organic and gluten-free options, and Chicago-area brands like Home Run Inn, Iltaco Foods, and Parker House Sausages will offer consumers a “unique” food shopping experience along with expanded aisles, a fresh color scheme on the walls and ceilings and food items from around the world. “We have put in a lot of hard work to make the store look warm and inviting, not like a warehouse,” Casaccio said.
Living Fresh Market will be managed by GCC LLC, an entity separate from Leamington. The store is leasing the more than 70,000 square feet retail space from Forest Park Plaza LLC, a for-profit entity owned by Living Word Christian Center, led by well-known pastor Dr. Bill Winston. The market, located at 7520 Roosevelt Road, occupies the retail space formerly housed by Ultra Foods.
“This is a great thing happening in the community,” said Melody Winston, Director of Real Estate, Operations and Construction for Forest Park Plaza. “This will be huge. Our company was committed to attracting a new fresh alternative food retailer into the mall that believes in true service. We believe we have found the right partnership with the Casaccio brothers. Dan is not only committed, but he is open to new ideas and innovation that will create an awesome shopping experience for the consumer. And, on top of this, there will be a large number of new jobs.”
Living Fresh Market has strong support from officials in local business and political circles as well.
“We’re really excited this store is opening, and we’re really happy that Danny has chosen Forest Park for his home,” said Laurie Kokenes, executive director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development.
“It’s going to be a real feather in the cap for the mall and for the village,” Kokenes added. “And it’s really a great story overall. I think it’s going to be awesome.”
Illinois State Representative LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago), who has a long history with the Casaccio family, also weighed with positive remarks. Ford worked in one of the family’s grocery stores as a teenager on the West Side.
The Casaccio family “gave me my first paid job, ever, at the Leamington Foods on Chicago Avenue and Leclaire,” said Ford. “They were a benefit to the community, and they continue to be a strong benefit in the Austin community. I appreciate their long years of sticking with our community,” Ford said. “They understand fresh produce, they understand the community, and Forest Park will be very happy with them.”
The store will be open before Mother’s Day. The store’s grand opening, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, is Wednesday, May 16, at 10 a.m.
For two weeks after the grand opening, Living Fresh will have fun giveaways for shoppers. Store hours are 7am to 10pm daily.
To receive additional information about Living Fresh Market or to arrange an interview, contact Kim Clay, [email protected], (708) 697-6180, or Jerry Thomas at [email protected], (312)-285-5166.