Name: Bob Crimo
Hometown: Highland Park
Name of business: Bob's Pantry and Deli
Describe what you do/sell/serve: The biggest draw to the store is the deli. Fresh meats, cheeses and garnishes make our custom-made sandwiches a No. 1 seller. We also offer a wide variety of grocery, dairy items and ice cream novelties.
What sets you apart from similar businesses? The store offers a place not only for great food but great conversation as well in our seating area. This is a unique facet that you cannot find anywhere else but in a family-run and family-oriented store.
What made you want to open this type of store? I am a people person. Interpersonal interactions are extremely important to me, and this venue allows me to have those interactions while providing a unique service to Highland Park and the surrounding communities.
Why did you decide to open your business in Highland Park? Highland Park provides a safe, clean and supportive environment for family-oriented businesses to operate. Additionally, I was the owner of the White Hen Pantry in Ravinia for over 18 years.
Why did you pick this specific location/storefront? The availability, close spatial proximity to Ravinia Festival and the Braeside Metra station were three major factors. I also wanted to continue to provide a convenience store service to the loyal customers of Highland Park.
What obstacles did you find when you started? The location needed a complete renovation. All new appliances needed to be fitted and purchased, in addition to setting up new relationships with vendors. Licensing and permits can also be points of frustration when starting up a business in a new location. However, the building inspectors understand this and work to make this a smooth transition.
Did you make use of any programs or incentives offered by an organization or local government? No.
If you could offer local officials one piece of advice to make their town more attractive to entrepreneurs, what would it be? Overall, the City of Highland Park is welcoming to entrepreneurs. As our city expands economically, the issue of limited parking will need to be addressed.
What mistakes did you make? The one major attribute of the store that I would have engineered differently would have been enlarging the dimensions of the seating area.
What did you do right? I remained loyal to my customers in the face of severe economic adversity with respect to my former store.
What advice would you give to someone else looking to open a business in Highland Park? I would encourage an individual to do their homework. A person needs to make sure that they are providing a necessary service to the public. The demand needs to be there. A person needs to anticipate ups and downs and be able to ride them out accordingly.
What are your hours/address/phone number/website: We are located at 55 St. Johns Ave. Hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Visit our website at http://www.bobspantry.com.
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