CHICAGO — As the FTC continues its review of the merger of Kroger and Albertson grocery brands, Kroger has announced that it will be off-loading some of its stores. One brand Kroger will be parting with is Mariano’s, which Kroger left in a cardboard box labeled “free to a good home,” hoping that some kind-hearted stranger might take in the store out of pity or mercy.
“As we prepare to make a new life with Albertson’s, we realized some parts of the Kroger family of brands can’t come with us,” said Jonathon Patterson, 43, a spokesman for Kroger. “As attached as we’ve become to Mariano’s, someone out there is going to be his forever-home.”
Kroger purchased Mariano’s in 2015, after seeing pictures of the store in a report of fastest growing brands in the Illinois market. Kroger was reportedly insistent on the purchase, even though sources close to Kroger say they’d warned Kroger that specialty stores take extra care. These same sources have suggested that the brand has struggled under Kroger’s ownership.
“Mariano’s used to be such a fun, playful store,” said Zack Tompkins, 35, a shopper at Mariano’s Ravenswood location. “Beautiful produce, busy wine bars, live music. Now it just seems a little sadder, a little less bright. A little more ‘Ohio.’”
When asked why Mariano’s was the first brand Kroger was ready to part with, Patterson was careful with details about the thirteen year old grocery chain.
“Mariano’s requires a lot of special care, and we’ll admit it’s been a challenge for us,” said Patterson. “Kroger is easy. Essentials at fair prices, quality that won’t blow your mind, but definitely feels like food. Mariano’s came with oyster bars and on-site grilling and a never ending thirst for live jazz quartets and white wine. We don’t need anyone to come at us with ‘I told you sos.’ Where were you with advice when we took away Mariano’s fresh bulk spice section and he freaked out and took a shit on the couch?”
As Kroger cements their new partnership with Albertsons, Mariano’s has been left out on the curb, hoping to be adopted by a new parent company. According to sources, Piggly-Wiggly has been eyeing the abandoned brand, but their wife will kill them if they bring in another stray.