Dominick's: A Chicago Institution

DOMINICK'S TRACES ITS ORIGINS back to 1925, when Dominick DiMatteo Sr. opened a small delicatessen in Chicago. When he acquired a second store for $500 in 1934, his 16-year-old son, Dominick DiMatteo Jr., ran it. The company opened its first supermarket in 1950 a store large enough that all 14 of its existing locations could have fit inside it, according to a company history. A second supermarket

DOMINICK'S TRACES ITS ORIGINS back to 1925, when Dominick DiMatteo Sr. opened a small delicatessen in Chicago.

When he acquired a second store for $500 in 1934, his 16-year-old son, Dominick DiMatteo Jr., ran it.

The company opened its first supermarket in 1950 — a store large enough that all 14 of its existing locations could have fit inside it, according to a company history. A second supermarket was added in 1956, and a third in 1959.

By 1968 the company — called Dominick's Finer Foods — had grown to 19 stores, largely by acquiring unsuccessful businesses in the Chicago marketplace.

That same year, DiMatteo sold the company to Fisher Foods, a Cleveland-based chain, for $8 million, with DiMatteo retaining operating control and continuing to open new stores.

Backed by Fisher funding, the company acquired 22 stores and a distribution center from Kroger Co. in 1968, temporarily ending Kroger's presence in the Chicago market.

In 1977, DiMatteo sold his small chain of stand-alone drug stores, called Neighbor Drugs, to Walgreen.

By 1981, Dominick's, with 71 stores, was the only profitable division of Fisher Foods. DiMatteo bought the company back from Fisher for $98 million.

Two years after DiMatteo died in 1993, the company was acquired by Yucaipa Cos., a Los Angeles-based investment firm, which sold the chain to Safeway in 1998.

Safeway introduced its lifestyle format to Dominick's in 2005 and its EDLP program in 2009.