Launched in 1958 as a bustling produce emporium at the corner of Harlem and Wrightwood in Elmwood Park, the enterprise has blossomed over the decades into a mini-empire that extends across the Chicago area.
Full-service grocery stores in Addison, Bloomingdale, Downers Grove, Elmwood Park, Hanover Park, Naperville/Plainfield and South Elgin operate in concert with the company’s expansive new warehouse, production facility and corporate headquarters in Carol Stream.
Nestled next door is the crown jewel of the company’s retail domain: a grocery store so well conceived and executed that it must be experienced firsthand to be truly appreciated.
Covering a remarkable 100,000 square feet and containing every imaginable item and amenity, Angelo Caputo’s Carol Stream store takes grocery shopping to new heights.
“We like to think of it as a shopping event,” company President Robertino Presta explains.
The tone is set the moment you walk in the door.
Immediately to your right is an intimate dining area within strolling distance of a bevy of food and beverage stations.
There is a tended bar stocked with premium beers and liquors, a wood-burning oven that churns out an assortment of pizzas, and stations devoted to omelets and crepes; coffee and gelato; sandwiches and panini; sushi and pasta; tacos and burritos; roasted chicken and pork; soups and salads; and yogurt, fresh juice, and cut fruits and veggies.
There are cases laden with pastries and cakes that you know are made fresh because you can see them being created through one of two windows that look into the production facilities.
The store is laid out like a baseball stadium with the bulk of the food stations representing the right-field stands.
An expansive infield sports more than 300 varieties of produce and an outfield of equal size teems with a dizzying array of domestic and imported groceries.
The right-field bleachers house extensive deli, meat and seafood cases; an entire section devoted to home-cooked meals; a fresh pasta station; and a gourmet cheese bar.
If the timing is right, you can watch in wonder as fresh mozzarella is pulled by hand, fresh pasta pours from gleaming machines and a dozen varieties of sausage are conjured before your very eyes.
“We place a huge premium on freshness,” Presta says. “All of our soups, sauces, pastas, baked goods and sausages are made on site without additives or preservatives. And we vacuum seal our meats and cook/chill our soups and sauces to boost their freshness and shelf life.”
Moving on to the center and left bleachers of this veritable field of grocery dreams, you’ll find whole rooms devoted to breakfast foods, chips and sodas, household items, frozen foods, bulk items, and wine and liquor. There’s even a small flower shop near the checkout area.
“Shopping at our Carol Stream store is a family event,” Presta says. “A wife will walk in from work, call her husband and say, ‘Why don’t you come down with the kids?’ and then enjoy a glass of wine until they arrive. After they finish dinner, they’ll shop for groceries for the week.”
For such an immense operation, the Carol Stream facilities leave a remarkably small carbon footprint. “We’re the first in the country and the largest in the world to use all LED lighting and all CO2 refrigeration,” Presta explains. “We take our commitment to the environment and our community very seriously.”
520 E. North Ave.
Carol Stream, IL 60188