Published July 23, 2009
Grant and Gateway squares
count on loyalty
owners say returning customers, easy parking, one-stop
shopping bring people back
By Christine Cuthbert
They’re not in
the heart of the downtown business district, privy to
sidewalk sales, festivals and event traffic, but shop
owners at Grant and Gateway squares say it’s the loyal,
returning customers that keep them in business.
“Probably 70 percent of my business is regular customers,” said
John Powers, manager of Burhops Seafood.
Residing in Grant Square for the last 20 years, Powers said,
Burhops has developed a following for its fresh food,
but the convenience of having other diverse shops in the
same center bring added clientele.
“Walgreens is my biggest pull because it brings people in for
prescriptions and other things,” Powers said.
George Thomos, and his sons Tom and Dean, took over ownership of
Grant Square Restaurant a year-and-a-half ago. Like
Powers, they agree that the handful of shops in the
center help draw people to their restaurant.
“You have almost everything you could need in this parking lot and
you can get a lot done in one stop,” he said.
Thomos said he has a group of regulars that come to eat on a daily basis.
He and his sons opened their first restaurant in
Naperville years ago, and they’re excited to finally be
introducing Hinsdale customers to their famous chicken
“We think people will like them,” he said. “This restaurant is a
very family-friendly place.”
Meanwhile, over at Gateway Square, Jo Changelian, owner of Luv It!,
said the popularity of Egg Harbor Restaurant on the
weekends creates plenty of shopping opportunities for
diners on the waiting list.
“Egg Harbor always has a wait on Saturday and Sunday mornings,
which means people walk around and look in the shops in
the center. It benefits the whole center,” she said.
“The combination of stores here allows shoppers to get a
lot done in one stop.”
During the holidays, Changelian said, people will bring their
holiday family photos to Wolf Camera. While their film
is being processed, shoppers will pop into Luv It! and
begin looking at which cards they want to use for the
Changelian bought Luv It! in 1990, but the store has been in
Gateway Square since the center was built in 1985. Other
stores that have been in the square for more than 20
years include Calico Corners, Hinsdale Clothiers and
Prime and Tender Meats. Along with pulling local
residents, Changelian said, Gateway Square also draws
shoppers from Elmhurst and other surrounding communities
because of its proximity to Ogden Avenue.
“From a retailers standpoint, the first thing that’s a plus is the
availability of parking,” she said. “And I like the
ambiance here with the flowers planted in the courtyard.
It’s a very pleasant place to work and shop.”
A Thursday and Sunday morning Farmer’s Market located in the
center’s parking lot also draws customers from outside
“We have some (farmers) that come from Michigan twice a week and
they’ve been coming for years,” Changelian said. “It’s
kind of like a family here. We’ve watched their children
grow and now their grandchild comes.”
A family-friendly atmosphere is something Kramer Foods has
continued to achieve over the years as well. Located in
Grant Square since 1959, the store originated on
Washington Street near where Jade Dragon Restaurant
currently resides. Owner Kim Ludwigson said the store
moved to the new location because the shopping center
was brand new at the time. And decades later, available
parking and friendly staff has kept customers coming
back to Kramer’s day after day.
“We have several customers who have been coming here for a very
long time,” Ludwigson said. “It’s very family-like
here. A lot of the people who work here have been here
30-plus years. That’s a long time, and you get to know
customers really well when you’ve been here that long.”
Like at Gateway Center, Ludwigson said, the parking is a plus for
customers and throughout the last five decades, not much
has changed at the store.
“The technology has changed, but the customer service has remained
the same,” she said. “The customers are so nice, they
make it easy.”