Save A Lot Independent Operator, City of Chicago Tackle Food Deserts

Yellow Banana receives $13.5M grant to invest in grocery stores in underserved communities
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
Marian Zboraj profile picture
Save A Lot Independent Operator, City of Chicago Tackle Food Deserts
A digital rendering of the Save A Lot Yellow Banana plans to purchase and reopen in Chicago's Auburn-Gresham community.

Yellow Banana, LLC, the owner and operator of eight Save A Lot locations in the Chicagoland area, has received a $13.5 million Community Development Grant from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City of Chicago that will enable Yellow Banana to invest in significant upgrades to its existing Chicago stores, as well as to reopen a location in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood that closed in 2020. The city’s grant, combined with other financing and funding from Yellow Banana, will bring approximately $26 million in investment into six locations in underserved communities throughout the city’s South and West Sides.

Yellow Banana purchased 38 Save a Lot stores across the Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Dallas and  Jacksonville, Fla., metropolitan areas as part of the discount retailer's recent wholesale model transition that involved selling nearly 300 corporate-operated locations to retail partners. Owned by Cleveland-based 127 Wall Holdings, LLC, Yellow Banana endeavors to deliver essential nutrition to working families at affordable prices. Chicago’s funding significantly furthers the retail grocery platform’s efforts to partner with major U.S. cities in addressing food deserts and healthy food access in underserved communities.

“This award marks another step in Yellow Banana’s ongoing commitment to the City of Chicago,” said Ademola Adewale-Sadik, co-founder of 127 Wall Holdings. “Mayor Lightfoot’s administration has made good on their promise to partner with private enterprise and invest in the city’s underserved but deserving neighborhoods. We are excited to deliver a repositioned grocery experience to our customers, colleagues and communities.”

The capital investments will be used to purchase the underlying real estate for six of the seven locations in Chicago as well as to complete full internal and external remodels, including new flooring, lighting, HVAC, dairy and meat cases, interior and exterior painting, new décor and signage. Remodels will begin this fall with plans for completion, as well as the reopening of the Auburn-Gresham Save A Lot at 7908 S. Halsted, by year’s end.

“We are exceedingly grateful to Mayor Lightfoot and the City of Chicago for this generous grant and their investment in the South and West Side neighborhoods of Chicago,” said Michael Nance, co-founder of 127 Wall Holdings. “We know how critical access to high-quality food at affordable prices is in many of these neighborhoods — I myself having been raised in a community with many similarities — and we are honored to be able to serve them. By updating these stores both inside and out and continuing to source fresh, affordable food at prices working families can afford, we can deliver a dignified, first-rate shopping experience for local families. We are committed to the wider Chicago community and look forward to finding even more ways to better serve those who live here.”

“We are thrilled about the City of Chicago's investment in the passionate team at Yellow Banana and the Save A Lot stores they own throughout the city's South and West Sides,” added Save A Lot CEO Leon Bergmann. “Quality brands at affordable prices are at the heart of Save A Lot's identity, and we are honored to be able to provide that to Chicagoans in underserved communities through our retail partners at Yellow Banana. We’re confident in their ability to maximize the success of their stores by serving the Chicago community and giving these stores, and their customers, the attention and enhancements they deserve.”

Mayor Lightfoot announced on July 18 nearly $50 million in Community Development Grants that will support 79 economic development projects to enhance the vitality and livability of local neighborhoods. Ranging from approximately $23,000 to $13.5 million, the grants will support workplace improvements involving interior and exterior renovations, building system upgrades, new construction, and other eligible expenses. Total project costs are estimated at $97.8 million.

More than half of the awardees are food-related businesses such as restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores. Besides Yellow Banana’s six supermarkets, they include the Chicago Market grocery store planned for the historic Wilson Avenue CTA station in Uptown and the Cultivate Collective neighborhood marketplace in Garfield Ridge.

Save A Lot has more than 850 stores in 32 states. The Earth City, Mo.-based company is No. 60 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

Also Worth Reading