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Beloved Pete Tsitiridis brings food, family, and the future to MLK Drive

“You can’t just love Pete, you have to understand why you love Pete. He took a young man, living in low income, with a single parent mother, and it was not always the best the neighborhood. But that’s not what he saw. He saw a young man who was working hard, who wanted something out of life. Pete took him under his wings, and brought him into his family. Today, this young man was able go to college because of Pete’s Fruit Market. This young man was able to represent his community because of Pete’s Fruit Market. This young man is now the Mayor of Waukegan because of Pete’s Fruit Market.” – Sam Cunningham, Waukegan’s first black Mayor

Pete’s Fruit Market hosted the grand opening of its new Bronzeville store located at 2323 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive on September 14, bringing to conclusion a long fought for goal to bring a grocery store to support the area community.

The grand opening festivities included live entertainment, store specials, food demonstrations, complimentary samples, and family-friendly activities. A crowd of hundreds gathered to watch the ribbon cutting ceremony, taking a break from their shopping to witness the historic day that returned fresh food to the neighborhood.

The new market is a fully remodeled, 13,700 square foot building complete with a full line of fresh juices, expanded seafood and butcher shop, fresh fruit and vegetables, and an array of food products. Pete’s expands its philosophy of bringing fresh products to the Bronzeville community, rich in culture, diversity and resilience by giving residents and the greater Milwaukee community a grocery experience they deserve.

“We are excited to open our second location in Milwaukee and look forward to making this location a destination for fresh produce and seafood to all of our neighbors,” said Pete Tsitiridis, owner, Pete’s Fruit Market.

Pete’s Fruit Market was founded by Tsitiridis in 1976 in Waukegan, Illinois. Since then Pete’s has expanded a few more times, with the Bronzeville location being the newest addition. The Pete’s family of stores provides quality produce to the communities it serves. The new Bronzeville location will be managed by Pete’s son, Teddy Tsitiridis.

Pete’s grand opening guest speakers included Vangard Group developer Kalan R. Haywood, Sr., Alderwoman Milele Coggs, DCD Commissioner Rocky Marcoux, and construction manager James Phelps of JCP Construction.

Sam Cunningham, Waukegan’s first black Mayor, offered passionate and heartfelt remarks from his own experience, and on behalf of the Tsitiridis family during the Grand Opening ceremony. He talked about working at Pete’s Fruit Market starting at 7:00 in the morning and going until 9:00 at night, and how the store had been his second home and family.

“We are here because of one person, Pete Tsitiridis, who I started with when I was about 12 or 13 years old. And, ironically, if you take a look at the neighborhood that they’re in right now, it’s the same neighborhood where he opened his first store,” said Mayor Cunningham. “Pete had a vision, and he had a commitment to run a great business with his family. But more importantly, to bring the service that his customers demanded.”

Financed in part by Milwaukee Economic Development Corp., the store was developed by Milwaukee-based Vangard Group and built in the former Walgreens retail strip at North Avenue and North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The supermarket’s opening comes as Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood has experienced a wave of renew interest from business. A new nonprofit warehouse recently moved in next door to the grocer, and across the street the former Garfield Avenue School is being redeveloped into new apartments with a new space for the America’s Black Holocaust Museum that closed in 2008.

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