Last March, Robert Lunderman received a license to peddle fruit and vegetables from the back of his truck. He is typically found parked at the corner of 63rd street and South Yale Avenue, near the 63rd Street Red Line stop.
But soon, Mr. Lunderman will make the transition indoors. Last Thursday, the CTA approved his lease for 82-square feet of retail space inside the 63rd and Ashland Green Line stop.
The CTA’s minority outreach arm found Lunderman through Teamwork Englewood. a community organization that had provided Mr. Lunderman with small business consulting. The organization’s Smart Communities Program is headed by Rosalind Moore. She says Lunderman was an easy choice after hearing the CTA’s pitch for the kiosk project.
“Fresh Fresh fruits, fresh produce, flowers,” she said, “That’s a good alternative. That’s a good thing to be able to stop and buy on your way travelling downtown or to and from home, versus the typical chips and pops and candy bars.”
The small size of Mr. Lunderman's new space means he will be limited to selling just produce for the time being. His lease on the space is for one year. A CTA spokeswoman said that while most retail contracts are longer, this local outreach program is being considered experimental.
Lunderman’s kiosk will open sometime between January and March. The CTA’s spokesperson did not know what Mr. Lunderman would be paying for the space, but did say retail lease costs vary based on location.
Lunderman says he will give up the fruit truck business in favor of the CTA kiosk. He is proud to represent the CTA, saying, "I"m excited, and I just want it to be right."