Having operated his first Wisconsin Pete's Fruit Market grocery store – which began life as a market before being enclosed so it could operate year-round – on Union Street at Greenfield Avenue on the near South Side since 1992, Greek immigrant Pete Tsitiridis yesterday cut the ribbon on his new location.
The store, at 2303 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Dr., at North Avenue, has a high-profile location in Bronzeville. About 35 people are employed at the nearly 14,000-square foot, full-service grocery store.
We stopped in to check it out and here's what we found:
Food desert has become a loaded term for some, but there's no denying that the neighborhood around King and North didn't have a solid grocery shopping option nearby before Pete's opened yesterday. Whether or not you like the term "food desert," Pete's is definitely a food oasis.
Five ears of delicious corn for a buck is definitely a sweet deal.
3. Fresh fruit and veg
Pete's stocks a full range of greens, peppers, tomatoes, grapes, onions, bananas and everything else you'd expect from a grocery store.
4. Specialty produce
In addition, there are some items, like the prickly pears you see here, that you won't likely find at Aldi or a corner store, or even in some full-service grocery stores.
A nice big basket of limes allows you to make a killer guac and and vodka tonics for all your friends simultaneously.
There's shrimp, there's a variety of fish – including the giant buffalo fish you can see pictured below – and there are these big oysters at a buck-39 a pop. Of course, there's also a meat counter.
7. Jamaican soda
Real Jamaican sodas from Desnoes & Geddes, brewers of Dragon Stout and Red Stripe? Yes, please. Especially the pineapple ginger and kola champagne. On the shelf below the same flavors are available in two-liter bottles, too.
8. Bimbollos and Pinguinos
Why have Hostess cupcakes when you can have Pinguinos? Why settle for hamburger buns when you can rock the Bimbollos? Pete's has a variety of imported gems throughout the store.
Yes, there are also aisles of your standard, everyday groceries, from pickles to vinegars to oils. A customer could do pretty much all his or her shopping here.
10. Smiling, helpful staff
Everyone I encountered working in the store was affable and smiling. Let's face it, that's a major selling point. Who wants to shop in a place where the staff are glum and miserable?
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.