'Baby' grocery to open on North Avenue

Fresh Market coming to 6209 W. North Ave., which has sat vacant almost 3 years after an Osco closed.

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By DREW CARTER

Residents of northeast Oak Park will soon be served by a "baby" grocery store.

That's the plan of George Dernis, owner of two other small groceries, who plans to open the North Avenue Fresh Market at 6209 W. North Ave. within two months.

Dernis said the market will have fresh meats, seafood, produce and bakery items delivered daily, but that prices would be low.

"We have a very diverse community, so we have to cater to everyone," he said.

Dernis expects a sign to go up by next week, and said the store would have a "monster grand opening" either when it opens or two weeks after.

The building's bright yellow, red and green exterior is to draw attention to it, he said.

Dernis said he will spend "more than seven figures" on the build-out of the space.

"I imagine the neighbors will be flabbergasted by it," he said.

The space has sat empty since February 2002, when an Osco store closed.

Jetco Properties, Inc., a division of Boise, Idaho-based Albertson's Inc., which also owns Jewel-Osco, sold the property in a July 2002 auction for $725,000 in equal portions to two limited liability corporations.

The LLCs were owned by James Bousis and an undisclosed partner in the produce business, WEDNESDAY JOURNAL reported in December 2002. Bousis, president of Cermak Produce and owner of other grocery stores, sold the property to Dernis and investors, Dernis said.

An attorney for Bousis paved the way for the property to be reopened as a grocery. Albertson's usually attaches special warranty deeds to the properties it sells, limiting the size of a new competing operation to about 3,000 to 5,000 square feet, Bill Stotis of Stotis & Baird, Bousis' lawyer, told WEDNESDAY JOURNAL in December 2002. But Stotis was able to persuade the company to raise the limitation to 15,000 square feet.

The existing building is in compliance with the special warranty deed if a market were established there, Stotis said.

Dernis owns a Cermak Produce at 2820 N. Cicero Ave., and Harvey Fresh Market, at 14861 Dixie Highway in south suburban Harvey.

Contact: dcarter@wjinc.com

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