ASHTON – Residents soon will have the option to buy groceries in the village rather than driving 10 or 15 miles to the nearest store.
Ashton Foods, 602 Brown Ave., formerly Ron's Food Market, closed about a year ago. Lirim Mimini, who has managed Huddle Cafe in Ashton for 18 years, bought the building on Aug. 17.
It needs roof and parking lot repairs, new refrigeration units, painting, and cleaning, but Mimini plans to have renovations completed and the shelves stocked by the fall, possibly as soon as mid-October.
"We're trying to make it a one-stop shop and keep people in town so they don't have to drive out of their way," he said.
Mimini's General Store will offer staples such as milk and other dairy products, bread, vegetables and fruit, canned goods, and deli options such as sandwiches and salads. Coffee and soda dispensers also will be available.
The store also will sell alcohol and have a bar area with video gambling machines.
Mayor Don Ross said although it's difficult to compete with large chain stores in Dixon and Rochelle, having a store in Ashton will help keep local dollars in the community.
"I think people are learning and understanding the need to support local businesses more than they used to," Ross said. "I really think the mentality is changing."
Mimini, who teaches foreign language at Sauk Valley Community College and is a professional translator, visited 22 grocery stores of similar size to gauge what he needs to offer for the business to be sustainable.
Ross, the Village Board and community members have shown a lot of support for the project, Mimini said.
"People thought the town was going to die without a grocery store, and the town didn't die, but it sure helps to have the business in town."
Mimini's General Store, 602 Brown Ave., is anticipated to open this fall with tentative hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Call 815-440-4623 or find Mimini's on Facebook for more information.