Uptown Park Ridge grocer has fresh outlook on produce shopping
Jeff and SuSu Scialabba are owners of Garden on the Run, a fresh produce and fruit shop on Main Street in Park Ridge. | Jennifer Johnson~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Garden on the Run.
SPECIALTY: Fresh fruit and vegetables.
ADDRESS: 108 Main St.
CONTACT: (847) 518-5019.
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:19AM
PARK RIDGE — Walking into Garden on the Run is like stepping back to a time in Park Ridge’s distant past — the days when shoppers headed to tiny Uptown storefronts for their grocery needs, buying fresh just what they needed for that day.
And that’s exactly the perception store owners Jeff and SuSu Scialabba want shoppers to take away from their new produce-and-fruit market at 108 Main St.
“From the response we’ve gotten the last nine weeks it seems like people are tired of the big (grocery) stores,” said Jeff Scialabba. “We wanted to make a place where you get what you need for the day — European style.”
Fresh fruit and vegetables, including organics, line the shop’s walls, from eggplant, lettuce and at least four different kinds of peppers to pineapples, clementines and strawberries. In the center stands a lone cash register just feet from a display of tomatoes and several varieties of potatoes. All of the produce sold is ripe and ready to eat, Scialabba said.
“It’s a farm stand more so than a grocery store,” he explained.
For Scialabba, whose family has been in the whole-produce business for four generations, opening a retail shop made sense, in large part due to the positive reactions he and his wife received from friends and acquaintances when they brought their fruit and veggie trays to special gatherings.
“Men and women alike would always ask us, ‘Where did you get that from?’ ” SuSu said.
Often the people they met would complain about poor produce they encountered on store shelves, she added.
“We just heard enough people being disenchanted with the quality of produce out there,” Jeff said, explaining one of the motivations behind opening Garden on the Run.
Formerly Kelly’s Meat Market, the new shop, which opened in late-April, has been completely renovated to resemble a vintage small-town market. The couple chose the Park Ridge location due to their long ties to the community.
“I’ve been here 38 years and I always wanted to be a businessman in Park Ridge,” Jeff explained.
For him being a fresh-produce seller means heading out to a supplier before dawn every morning in order to choose the day’s fruits and vegetables that are just right.
Other fresh products sold at the store include homemade guacamole, gazpacho, mango salsa, salads and sandwich wraps. There’s also the fruit smoothie, made with frozen grapes, strawberries and bananas.
Most customers come for just a couple of things and many return a few times each week, say the owners. The shop is also becoming popular with Metra commuters who just cross the street to pick up already-prepared meals (like salads and wraps) or ingredients for pasta.
“People have worked us into their daily routine,” SuSu said.
Garden on the Run also provides delivery service to homes and businesses in Park Ridge and Edison Park. Deliveries can be ordered by phone at (847) 518-5019 or online at www.gardenontherun.com.