November 14, 2008

Treasure Island to improve selection, appearance

[img id="77005" align="alignleft"] In recent days, renovations mark the spot at Treasure Island, the Hyde Park grocery store.

“We knew when we took out the lease on the store that it would need [renovating]. It needed it desperately; everything was old,” said Treasure Island co-owner Maria Kamberos. “We wanted to make it fresh, new, and exciting.”

The multi-million dollar renovations, slated to conclude by the end of February, will include both aesthetic changes, like a new glass front to the building, as well as substantive ones, such as a larger organic produce section and smoothie bar. The store will remain open in the interim. The chain is planning a series of renovations across its Chicago locations, but the Hyde Park location will be the first to receive upgrades.

Kamberos, along with her husband and business partner Christ Kamberos, went through “eight or nine” different designs before settling for the current one, which is aimed to maximize product variety, she said.

The current renovations represent the latest step in a process that began more than a year ago when the University sought a replacement for the location’s previous tenant, the Hyde Park Co-op, which became financially insolvent. Treasure Island, which has seven locations Chicago, was chosen over rival Dominick’s, although controversy erupted before doors even opened over the rehiring of former Co-op employees.

“We are interested in a more vibrant retail and entertainment section in Hyde Park,” said University spokesman Robert Rosenberg. “The University is a facilitator. Our core competence is not development, not retail—it’s education. We actively seek out partners who can provide us with expertise [and] we are pleased to have Treasure Island.”

Kamberos emphasized Treasure Island’s commitment to those ideals.

“We think that we have a good plan that would fit Hyde Park and the community,” Kamberos said. “Not one of our stores will be a cookie cutter.”

During construction, Treasure Island shoppers have been greeted by imploring signs: “Please pardon our dust.” For the most part, shoppers seem to be abiding.

“I noticed a hole where the spinach used to be,” said second-year Andi Hill. “But it is still the biggest and closest [grocery store]. There’s more variety than other places.”

Kamberos said that there was no evidence of a drop in customers during construction.

“The customers have been great. I think they like seeing what’s going on,” she said.