The ceremony started right on the dot at 1 PM in a very weedy, gravelly Clark Street lot. Alderman Pat Dowell, the Mariano's people and Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson from the Near South Planning Board made their remarks. Then the shovels and the hard hats went up front--and boom, it was completely, totally and thoroughly a done deal: Mariano's will be built in the South Loop, on the east side of Clark, between 16th and 17th streets. And everyone's happy. (Except perhaps the other grocery stores we already have--Jewel, Dominick's, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. )
There was a smattering of my South Loop friends in attendance and we chatted a bit. Some of us were hungry and looking forward to some complimentary sandwiches made by one of the other Mariano's in an adjacent neighborhood. But there wasn't a morsel. Instead, we asked Brandon Neeley to tell us a bit about the sandwiches his neighborhood coffee house at 16th and State--Overflow Coffee Bar
--serves. A little vicarious thrill. He told us about interesting ones with meats and cheeses and veggies and hummous.
We tried to figure out what residential building would be closest to Mariano's once it's constructed. The Tigerman Building on Clark, just to the north? Dearborn Tower on State, just to the northeast? Or the big red loft building across Clark, just to the south? It was hard to say. Distances can be deceiving.
Neeley told us of his high hopes for the construction workers and other personnel who would be visiting the very site we were standing on--before Mariano's opens in 2013. He hoped they'd become good customers of his. I told him to figure out a way to get them in the habit of visiting his place--because construction people are creatures of habit.
"Go over there every day and give everyone a coupon," I suggesteed.
"Already doing that," he said, and with good results. The construction prep has already been going on. Which was the topic of another conversation we all veered into: Taking the chain link fence and the construction trailer back several feet east to provide a wider sidewalk on Clark, as well as greater visibility at 16th Street.
Yes. Yes. Good. Good. Kiss. Kiss. I was off. I hurried over to Overflow for a sandwich to go.
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