by Mike Sula
Alerted to the arrival of DC-based, Korean-owned supermarket chain Grand Mart, I stopped by the North and Cicero location and found it to be a very strange animal. Imagine the aisles of a Cub Foods, H Mart, and Cermak Produce, picked up, shuffled around and rearranged in no particular order, so you have Pillsbury products on the other side of an aisle full of Mexican chilies across the way from a Pocky display. There are cactus paddles next to lemongrass not far from the iceberg lettuce; El Caporal quesadilla cheese next to Hatai dried anchovies next to Jell-o pudding packs. . . you get the idea.
In fact, this store is in the space once occupied by a Cub Foods, as evidenced by the recycled signage in the attached photo. The store targets Latinos further down the building with "Mercado Grande." Reader contributor Gary Wiviott was along for the ride and dubbed it "Hisasian." As large as this place is, I found its offerings too diluted to justify a trip out this way. Sure there's a very nice selection from each target ethnicity, but on their own they're no better--and in many ways inferior--to the three Mexican groceries, three Korean groceries, and two Jewels within walking distance of me right now, though Wiviott remarked that the prices were fairly low.
This is one of eight Grand Marts poised to conquer the region, the very next one opening on Thursday, at 5740 W. Touhy in Niles. That's H Mart territory, and it will be interesting to see if they can compete.