There were a lot of patient drivers queued up along South Main Street and along Route 38 for Tuesday’s grand opening of Mariano’s Wheaton, 625 S. Main St. Drivers waited as long as 15 minutes to park late in the morning. The store opened at 6 a.m. daily and closes at 10 p.m.
The eagerness was evident in social media, as were hints of frustration from drivers:
“Loved the store! But I should have taken a cab or walked!” posted Cheryl Christensen Emma.
“Couldn't find a spot in the main lot or the overflow lot but will try again later,” wrote Kirsten Lundgaard Izatt. “Nice to have a place to pick up groceries that is between work and home.”
“I was there this morning,” posted Alisha Ali. “It took 20 minutes to find a parking spot. It was crazy. I'll go back again but i'll wait till things settle down.”
“We were going to but saw how nuts it was and decided against it. We'll wait till it's calmed down lol,” posted Jennifer Devore.
“It's causing too much traffic on Roosevelt!” posted Karon Brown.
More than one Wheaton Facebook follower preferred to wait out the opening crowds.
“Excited to shop there but will wait a few days not a fan of crowded stores,” wrote Stephanie Gallatin Skoglund.
Despite the wait drivers faced in the parking lot — it was, after all the store’s grand opening — there wasn’t a hint of exasperation inside the store. If anything, the mood among shoppers and store workers alike seemed to be one of eager anticipation.
It’s no wonder. The store is large and is packed with arrays of goods.
Dana Schueler, senior marketing leader for Mariano’s, was on hand to help local media navigate the store — at 74,050 square feet, there’s a lot of ground to cover, not to mention all the features.
And cover all the store’s features she did, pointing out a Produce section that’s heavy on local and seasonal offerings — and plenty of organic choices.
Sprinkled around the store, clerks offer patrons a taste of a sample of this — whether freshly made Italian sausage or grilled tuna or slices of cheese, all delicious.
There’s other departments you expect to see in a grocery store, but bigger — Fresh Meats also emphasizes natural and organic choices, and the Seafood area boasts a wide selection from tuna to shellfish to lobster and crab.
The Bakery’s huge, and one could spend half a morning visiting the Specialty Cheeses department. There also is a Floral department, a wine area, a walk-in beer cooler, the International food aisles, and a full-service pharmacy.
Those are the departments you usually expect to see in a grocery store.
Mariano’s has much more in store for patrons.
There’s Todds BBQ, the fresh smoothie bar called Squeez’d, Vero — an Italian coffee and gelato bar, OKI Sushi, and an array of fresh, hot foods from pizza to sandwiches to pizzas, soups, salads and fried chicken.
Mariano’s is owned by Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Inc., which opened its first Chicago-area store in 2010 in Arlington Heights. Since then, the company has expanded to 13 other communities, including Wheaton.
The Wheaton store is expected to provide about 425 new jobs to the community.Check out Mariano’s Facebook page, Twitter, and website, www.marianos.com.