When Whole Foods first opened in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side in 2016, residents and community leaders celebrated the move and praised the store for providing fresh, healthy, affordable food.
Now the store in the heart of the neighborhood is set to close, and a sense of frustration is growing, especially since there are no concrete plans yet for a new grocer to step in.
“You don’t want the doors to close on 63rd, because of all the work that’s been done…but you don’t want to rush into a decision that might not be beneficial to the community,” Asiaha Butler, founder of R.A.G.E. Englewood, told Reset.
The impending closure will leave just three smaller grocery stores and four corner stores in the neighborhood, according to Sana Syed, senior director of strategic initiatives at Inner-City Muslim Action Network and Go Green on Racine, a small market that opened half a mile from Whole Foods in March.
Go Green features 40 local vendors on the shelves, and it caters to the community with grab-and-go meals that SNAP recipients can buy with EBT cards.
Englewood also has several urban farms that provide vegetables to residents who visit food pantries and local farmers’ markets that sell subsidized produce and other items.
Nevertheless, residents Reset spoke with during a recent visit to Englewood said they would still like to see a full-size grocery store in addition to those options.
Alderman Stephanie Coleman, 16th Ward, is hosting a town hall meeting Wednesday, October 26 at Kennedy King College to hear from Englewood residents about exactly what they’d like to see in the Whole Foods space.
Cermak Foods and Save A Lot have emerged as potential operators, but SaveALot’s track record makes residents pause, said Cecile De Mello, director of Teamwork Englewood.
She said there were ripple effects on Greater Englewood when Save A Lot closed in nearby Auburn Gresham in 2020. Now, she and residents want to make sure any future grocer will commit to the neighborhood in the long term.
De Mello’s organization conducted a survey of Englewood residents and found that affordability, quality of products and long-term commitment are their top priorities.
To hear more from De Mello and other Englewood leaders and residents, you can listen to Reset’s full conversation about the closure of Whole Foods and what comes next by clicking the player above.