The former Moo & Oink property on Madison Street near Cicero Avenue could house a new grocery store if the right buyer is found, according to 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin.
The property has been vacant since Moo & Oink closed in late 2011. The longtime retailer was forced to close due to declining sales and mounting debt during the economic downturn. In addition to the Austin location at 4848 W. Madison, two South Side stores and one location in the south suburbs also shuttered.
Known for its variety of meats and quirky TV commercials from the 1980s, Moo & Oink was an Austin institution for more than 30 years, though its history dates back more than century.
Ervin maintains that he’s looking to replace the shuttered Austin property with a new grocery retailer.
“We’re still working on that,” Ervin said in a recent interview, adding that the new store would not be an Aldi’s, but something that fits what the community wants.
“We’re still working to bring a solid grocery store for the community as we try to fill in the old Moo & Oink, that site, and put in a grocery store in that portion of Austin,” he said.
Moo & Oink filed for bankruptcy chapter 7 in late 2011. Its name and intellectual properties were bought by the minority-owned Best Chicago Meat company that December for roughly $500,000. The company planned to sell meat products under the Moo & Oink brand. A selection of products hit Chicago-area store shelves by spring 2012.
Mariano’s Fresh Market for 29th Ward?
In related news, 29th Ward Ald. Deborah Graham says Mariano’s Fresh Market is being recruited for North Avenue near Harlem.
“The deal has not been made solid yet. There’s some strong negotiations going on. It’s still a little bit premature, but there’s some heavy talks going on between Sears, Mariano’s and the city of Chicago,” Graham says. “When all of those plans have been made firm, we’ll be ready to talk about them but right now we’re still working through them.”
Graham said the North Avenue location would serve Austin and neighboring Oak Park, as well as River Forest and Elwood Park.
The retailer currently operates more than two dozen stores in the Chicago and suburban areas.
Ervin added that it’s unlikely Mariano’s would take over the Moo & Oink site.
“You have to understand that the demographics of Mariano’s may not necessarily fit most of our communities. For Ald. Graham, as she moves farther west and north, the demographics change. For myself, as I move farther east, the demographics change,” Ervin said.
“So when we start looking at the main portions of Austin — we’re talking about Madison and Cicero, or Cicero and Lake — those areas, the demographics for a Mariano’s probably are not optimal for what they’re looking for, or the type of business model they run.”