Bob Mariano, the lifetime grocery veteran whose namesake Mariano’s Fresh Market banner wowed Chicago-area shoppers and led to its acquisition by The Kroger Co., plans to retire effective Sept. 1.
The CEO of Mariano’s parent Roundy’s, the Milwaukee-based grocery operator that merged with Kroger in late 2015, will stay on as a strategic advisor to Kroger and Roundy’s for two years.
Don Rosanova, president of Mariano's, and Michael Marx, president of Roundy's Supermarkets Wisconsin, will continue to serve in their current roles leading the two supermarket divisions.
‘A tremendous leader’
"Bob has been a tremendous leader for Roundy's and the entire supermarket industry. The centerpiece of his career, of course, is the Mariano's chain of stores in his hometown of Chicago," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "We see a bright future ahead for our Pick 'N Save and Metro Market stores in Wisconsin and for Mariano's stores in Chicago. And we look forward to our continued partnership with Bob as a strategic consultant and advisor.”
Mariano, 66, began his career in the grocery industry in 1967, when he worked as a part-time deli clerk at a Dominick's supermarket in Chicago. He served in various roles of increasing responsibility, including senior vice president, before being named president and CEO of Dominick's in 1995. He led the company through an initial public offering in 1996 before the company was purchased by Safeway in 1998.
Mariano took on leadership of Roundy's Supermarkets Inc. in 2002. Roundy's opened the first store under the Mariano's banner in 2010 in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago.
Chicago-area shoppers have embraced Mariano’s stores for their fresh produce and meats, specialty foods and fresh prepared foods, including brick-oven pizza, sushi, smoked-in-house barbecue, oyster bars and other gourmet offerings.
Today there are 34 Mariano's store locations throughout the Chicago area. They include the Glenview West store, the banner’s largest, featuring a curation center that showcases specialty products, as well as a cheese and charcuterie cave; and the Skokie store, which features a self-contained kosher market (both locations were featured in PG’s September 2015 issue).
Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,778 retail food stores under a variety of local banner names in 35 states and the District of Columbia.