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Kroger Sells Mariano’s Brand, Leaving the Fate of the Grocery Store’s Name in Peril

There’s a good chance many Mariano’s stores will rebrand to Jewel

It would appear Jewel-Osco has won.
Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

It’s been nearly a year since the parent company of Mariano’s agreed to buy the parent company of Jewel-Osco. With Kroger and Albertson’s combining in a $24.6 billion deal, the ramifications for Chicago shoppers were the possible deaths of their favorite grocery store brands. Why would a new Kroger-Albertson’s entity want dueling brands in Mariano’s and Jewel in the same market?

So loyal Chicago shoppers, the ones who make puns about “run the Jewels,” and the ones who enjoy drinking at a Mariano’s bar while listening to the pianist, waited for the federal government to review the deal. The FTC needed to determine if the merger would create unfair competition for other stores with an impact on pricing and the selection of items. Fewer stores means fewer shelves for products, and this could make it harder for smaller businesses to sell their items, especially if stores would rather work with manufacturers that they already have relationships with.

As Kroger and Albertson’s sweat through the review, there is some news. The parent company of Mariano’s, Kroger’s, has agreed to sell 14 stores in Illinois and the Mariano’s name to the entity that runs Grand Union and Piggly Wiggly. Crain’s breaks the deal down, as it’s part of a larger $1.9 billion deal that enables Kroger to dump 413 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers.

Kroger would not identify the stores involved. Kroger operates 44 Mariano’s in Chicago and its suburbs. It also runs about 10 other stores under the 10 Food 4 Less banner.

So, it would seem, that Jewel has triumphed. The name originated in 1932, so it might have a little bit more market strength in Chicago versus Mariano’s which debuted in 2010. It’s named after Bob Mariano, a Chicago native who was friends with Dominick DiMatteo — the founder of Dominick’s Finer Foods. Mariano served as that company’s chief executive officer before the company was sold. He then founded Mariano’s. After Kroger bought Mariano’s in 2015, Mariano’s went on to found the new Dom’s Kitchen & Market chain with a nod to DiMatteo.

Since the locations of the 14 Illinois stores in the deal haven’t been made public, it’s not a sure thing, but there’s a good possibility that Chicago could see a few more Piggly Wiggly’s. Or at least Mariano’s in Piggly Wiggly’s clothing.

Dom’s Kitchen & Market

2730 N Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614 Visit Website