Sugarbeet Co-op a grocery store for the community

An independent grocery store, Sugar Beet Food Co-op is rooted in the community and dedicated to providing a unique shopping experience in Oak Park. The small but mighty store is community owned in the truest sense. The ownership model gives invested buyers the opportunity to actively participate in the governance of the cooperative, but Sugar Beet, 812 Madison St., Oak Park, is open to the general public.

“People are always worried if they walk through the door, they’ll be kicked out,” said Lissa Dysart, Marketing Manager for Sugar Beet. “But the first thing people need to know is that you don’t have to be a member to shop here.”

While it can be hard to decipher what’s going on behind the tinted glass of the historic building housing the co-op, shoppers should expect Sugar Beet to be a welcoming and fun place to shop. The colorful produce section is 99% organic and relies heavily on locally sourced fruits and vegetables to supply the department. Spur Farms, owned by Veronica Cibotaru of Delia’s Kitchen in Oak Park, is among the cooperative’s produce suppliers. Of course, the produce available rotates with the seasons, but Cibotaru grows produce like cucamelons, ground cherries, eggplant, green and wax beans, and sugar beet bunches.

Sugar Beet’s cafe is also a celebration of all things local. They feature sweet treats from Chicago-based, Latina-owned You’re a Cookie, makers of vegan, nut-free, and gluten-free items. The dough is offered for sale in the freezer section of the co-op for a take-out option, but freshly baked biscuits are also available in the on-site cafe. Other pastries come from Holcomb Hollow, West Town Bakery, Mindful Bakery and Silverland Bakery. The cafe proudly serves freshly brewed hyperlocal Whirlwind coffee, nitro cold brew, healing turmeric lattes and fruit smoothies with optional nutritional supplements.

Although modest compared to larger grocery stores, Sugar Beet has a solid prepared food section. There are no traditional service counters, but all sandwiches, soups and salads are prepared daily on site by a team of 40 employees. Peek into the vertical case and discover the famous “VLT” sandwich made with vegetarian bacon from Upton’s Naturals and Mighty Vine tomatoes from Chicago. A rotating menu of soups includes gluten-free varieties like chicken tortilla, ginger carrot, quinoa and sweet potato chili.

This month, Sugar Beet will launch a revamped store they designed with guidance from National Co-op Grocers whose mission is to optimize operational and marketing resources and build buying power for grocery co-ops. Across the country. A reception and tour of the new owners is scheduled for October 22. Plan to drop by — after all, the co-op is community owned and open to everyone!

Sugar Beet Cooperative
812 Madison, Oak Park

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