Vintage Chicago Tribune: Sacked grocery and convenience stores we wish we were visiting this holiday season

·5 min read

Let’s face it, Chicago — at some point this holiday season you’re gonna be stuck waiting in a long checkout line at either a grocery or convenience store.

And if the Robert Earl Keen song “Merry Christmas From the Family” is any indication, your cart could be full of unrelated yet absolutely necessary items — some of them starting to melt — when that happens.

So, instead of losing your patience, bookmark this page and step back to simpler times — by revisiting our beloved Chicago-area markets that no longer exist.

If you don’t remember these markets, then it’s still a great time to get caught up on the history of Jewel before its parent company could be acquired by Kroger, the largest traditional grocery company in the country. Tribune business reporter Talia Soglin profiled the ever-evolving store nicknamed da Jewels by locals and, oh yeah, it includes an excellent amount of photos pulled directly from the Tribune’s archives.

How you can support this newsletter

Become a Tribune subscriber — it’s just $12 for a 1 year digital subscription.

Thanks for reading!

— Kori Rumore, visual reporter

Chicago history | More newsletters | Puzzles & Games | Today’s eNewspaper edition

Dominick’s Finer Foods

Dominick’s, which was started in 1925 as a corner market on the West Side, grew into Chicago’s second largest grocery chain behind Jewel with 72 stores. Safeway bought Dominick’s for $1.2 billion in 1998, incorporating it into the nation’s second-largest chain. Dominick’s closed all of its Chicago-area stores on Dec. 28, 2013, affecting a total of 5,633 workers. Read more.

White Hen Pantry

Once the most prominent convenience store chain in the Chicago region, White Hen operated and franchised 206 stores in Illinois and Indiana and another 55 in Boston. The Lombard-based company was purchased in 2006, by 7-Eleven Inc. for $35 million. Soon afterward its name hit the same dustbin as Marshall Field, Montgomery Ward and other well-known retail monikers. Read more.


The Youngstown, Ohio-based specialty drug retailer whose motto was “Power buying saves you Phar-Mor,” entered the Chicago market in 1987. Following an investigation, however, its president Michael Monus was found guilty in 1995, of 109 federal felonies for directing a $1.1 billion fraud and embezzlement scheme that forced Phar-Mor to seek bankruptcy protection in 1992. Monus — who established the World Basketball League for shorter (6 feet 7 inches and less) players; made Youngstown one of two stops sponsored by Phar-Mor on the annual Ladies Professional Golf Association tour; and was an original owner of the then-new Colorado Rockies baseball team — served 10 years in prison. By the early 2000s, all Phar-Mor locations in Illinois were closed. Read more.

Cub Foods

A division of Supervalu of Minnesota, Cub Foods opened its first Chicago-area wholesale warehouse store in 1983, in Burbank. Cub made a splash in Chicago when it moved into the market, gaining some market share by offering prices that were 10% lower than those of full-line grocery stores like Jewel and Dominick’s Finer Foods. A key component of Supervalu’s $9.8-billion deal to buy Jewel-Osco’s corporate parent in 2006, however, meant it had to sell more than 20 Cub Foods stores here. The Cub name disappeared locally in 2007, but one store remains open in Freeport. Read more.

Moo & Oink

The company, which was around for about 150 years before its locations were sold in 2011, wasn’t always known for its onomatopoeic name. The Calumet Meat Co. changed its moniker in 1977, after cow and pig mascots — Moo and Oink — were introduced. Its iconic jingle, according to the brand’s website, was once sung by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” Though its popular commercials no longer air, you can still buy products with the Moo & Oink name online. Read more.

  • Videos: Memorable Chicago television commercials

  • Richard Pegue (1944-2009): Longtime ‘dusties’ radio DJ, WGCI manager, promoter also wrote the jingle for Moo & Oink

Treasure Island

A family-run chain of European-style supermarkets selling domestic and imported foods, Treasure Island was founded in 1963 by Christ Kamberos Sr., who died in 2009, and his brother Frank Kamberos. Christ Kamberos Sr.’s wife, Maria Kamberos, was the company’s CEO and it was a note by her that announced the stores’ closing: “We have done everything we could to attempt to get the company on solid ground to try to operate for another 55 years. Unfortunately, given the current industry conditions, it has been impossible for us to continue to operate without losing money.” The six Treasure Island locations closed on Oct. 12, 2018. Read more.

Omni Superstore

In 1987, Dominick’s formed a new “low prices” division under the Omni Superstores banner that specialized in super-warehouse retailing. The first Omni store, with 90,000-square feet, opened at 159th Street and La Grange Road in southwest suburban Orland Park. Ten years later, Omni began to sell trendy greens, fancy meats and placed an emphasis on personal service. If it sounds like a precursor to Mariano’s, then you’d be right — Robert A. Mariano was Dominick’s president and chief executive officer at the time. The popular stores disappeared from the Chicago area in 1998, when they all were transformed into the more upscale Dominick’s Fresh stores. All Chicago-area Dominick’s locations were shuttered in late 2013. Read more.

  • Eric Zorn: Shops come, go but are never really forgotten

  • Mary Schmich: When a local biz gets bought, Chicagoans fear the outsider

  • From 2015: Kroger takeover won’t hurt quality at Mariano’s stores, Bob Mariano says

  • From 2021: Cooking classes, local brands and plenty of prepared meals: New store from Mariano’s founder bets people still want to buy groceries in person

Join our Chicagoland history Facebook group for more from Chicago’s past.

Have an idea for Vintage Chicago Tribune? Share it with Ron Grossman and Marianne Mather at and