Local, Park Forest

Park Forest Foods Grand Opening Slated For June 27

Gloria Parker, Donna Simmons, Park Forest Foods
Gloria Parker, left, and cashier Donna Simmons, both of Park Forest, took a moment in April to talk about Park Forest Foods. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Park Forest Foods is planning a grand opening on June 27, eNews Park Forest has learned. The store has been operating under a “soft opening,” typically a period of time when workers can be trained, order schedules can be established, owners and staff can learn the day-to-day of operating at a particular location.

The store certainly needs traffic so owners can replenish stock. Currently, the shelves are full, but refrigerated areas need re-stocking. Meats have been consolidated to one full, area in front of the butcher area. The refrigerated display was full this afternoon.

The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the 4th of July and is taking pre-orders for chicken and other items in the deli area.

On Wednesdays when Main Street Nights are held on the Village Green, sandwiches will be made to order. There are also specials for 4, 8, and 12 piece chicken dinners, with chips and cold drinks.

The store is open Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mr. Paul Patel is the owner of the business. He expressed his eagerness to see the store become a destination for shoppers.

“We hope to keep the door open, bring the people in, keep the store clean,” Mr. Patel said when asked about his hopes for the business.

“I’ll do what I have to do” to make that happen, Mr. Patel said.

Mr. Patel is not new to the grocery industry, having operated a half dozen or so through the years.

Support from the community is key. The store has been a regular topic of conversation on social media.

The owner has had his fair share of challenges since opening the doors, including older freezers that were breaking down even when Sterk’s operated at that location, noted Melissa Pratt in one Facebook thread.

Two writers noted that the owner was at Main Street Wednesday giving out ice cream.

Joyce Goodman was direct, “I for one do not want to hear any complaints when and if we lose this store. I’d like to know how many of the village board members and the mayor shopped there and I mean more then once. I will admit that the last couple of weeks the store has looked empty but we still try to go there.”

That won a quick reply from Kathleen Vanderbilt, wife of Park Forest Village Trustee Jon Vanderbilt, “Vanderbilts shop there once a week. And when my boys and I are walking around town, my oldest will ask ‘are we going to the grocery store today?!?!'”

There were critics in the thread, Georgeann Davis among them, “I asked about the poorly stocked merchandise – like never being able to buy a half gallon of 2% milk – and they told me they restocked on Wednesday and Saturday. But even on a Wednesday, I went in there and there was no fish, not much meat, etc.” Ms. Davis also noted, “If the store has to rely on Park Forest residents to survive, it will fail – not enough of us to shop there.”

Another noted seeing mouse droppings, while another found produce that was no good.

Trustee Vanderbilt wrote an extended post yesterday, “I spent $68 on Monday and got two nice New York strip steaks and a few other items. With the rain shoppers were down. I did miss my jerk chicken legs but Why should they have a full Meat selection if they don’t have/need to. The owners are very good about getting what you want to eat in the store. We as a Village have to somehow increase traffic by double. Next we have to Hold Matanky Accountable for their parking lot and building maintenance. The Owners had to put a lot of work to get those freezers going and are still being worked on with getting things just right with temperatures and Freon. They hired almost all Park Forest Residents and the employees are willing to help in any way possible. [sic]”

Becky Garner Czmyr noted, “Got what I was looking for today- what is in stock is good – keep faith!”

At the end of the unusually long discussion on Facebook, Judith McGee suggested what many, perhaps, were thinking, “Maybe it’s time for another topic.”

For what it’s worth, this writer spent just over $55 at the store today. There were yogurt items that were out of code, or close to code dates, but the milk was fresh and priced well.

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