Chicago IL: What started as a small family business and an unrelenting desire to bring ethnic Indian food to the masses has transformed into the largest Indian grocery store chain in the United States. The line of customers who wrapped around the Patel Brothers storefront at the Indian grocer’s newest location at 9555 North Milwaukee Ave. Niles, IL 60714 on grand opening day proved it.
Nearly ten months after announcing plans to open a new store at Golf Road and Milwaukee Avenue in Niles, Patel Brothers cut the ribbon on the company’s new ethnic grocery store location on Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 11:00 am opening the store to the public for the first time.
According to Asian Media USA, over 1,200 people flooded to the 28,000 square foot the Skokie-based Indian grocery store. Founded in 1974, Patel Brothers operates more than 50 stores nationwide and sells lines of frozen and prepackaged Indian foods.
The store’s inauguration commenced with a spiritual ceremony held by priests from BAPS Shri Swaminarayan temple located in Bartlett, Illinois. Two temple priests conducted the prayers at the store’s back door in accordance with the sect’s religious tenants that prevent priests from direct contact with the general public, specifically women.
Mafat Patel, co-founder of the grocery store chain told Suresh Bodiwala Chairman of Asian Media that he credits the hard work and talent of the third generation of Patel family leaders in advancing the business and building the Indian grocery empire. “All the hard work from first generation paid off, when we start business, we were very small,” “Now, I am just helping them. Second and Third generation are doing a great job,” Patel said, overwhelmed by the response to the store opening and surrounded by three generations of family members that have helped to grow business and hundreds of customers.
The third-generation grocery store food chain was initially started by the Tulsibhai Patel, a hardworking yet uneducated Indian businessman with a passion for his family and Indian values.
“We have nothing but gratitude,” said Swetal Patel, vice president and company spokesperson who is Mafat Patel’s younger son. “With many choices out there for the consumer, they still have such loyalty. We are all so thankful.”
The Mayor of Niles, Andrew Przybylo accompanied Mafat Patel in cutting the ribbon as shoppers eagerly waited to enter the new store. “We are truly a diverse community. We celebrate all cultures,” said Przybylo.
Patel Brothers stores offer everything from an on-site bakery and hot food items, a collection of exotic Indian vegetables found exclusively at their stores, massive variety Indian grains and frozen food items, to carefully curated selection of adjacent shops catering to the Indian community.
The Indian grocer has been fast to adjust to the needs of modern-day Indian families. “The bakery has really helped families now,” said Swetal Patel. “One of the staples in every Indian and Pakistani home is fresh bread at dinner time. But it’s also the most tedious thing to do, to constantly make bread every day. Now you can come here and get bread anywhere from $1 to $1.49 for three to five pieces, and it’s made fresh. Not daily, but every three to five minutes. You can see here they’re just churning out fresh bread.”
Rakesh Patel, Mafat’s elder son, who has mastered the art of putting the grocer’s retail locations together, said, “This is how Indian grocery shopping should be. With plenty of room to move around comfortably,” adding that the new store is outfitted with an additional 12,000 square feet of space for storage on the second floor and a rear parking lot made with permeable pavement to reduce stormwater runoff.
The new store location is a prime retail site formerly occupied by big-box retailer Toys R Us. The site will now house six storefronts adjacent to the grocery store, including restaurants, shops, and a halal butcher shop all curated by Patel’s elder son.
“We know it’s a strong retail corner. Niles has a very ethnic and diverse offering, and this will only continue to add to those offerings, which will only help our very diverse population,” said Niles Economic Development Coordinator Ross Klicker.
The new store is expected to bring significant tax revenues from food sales to the Village of Niles. The village imposes a 2.5 percent sales tax on all businesses selling food, and the boost from tax revenue to the village from the new store is yet to be fully realized.
“This is a great use for the village. We’re very confident it’s going to be an outstanding location. It’ll be very successful for all parties involved,” Klicker said.
Regular store hours start Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m every day. Patel Brothers also operate four other stores in Illinois with locations in Schaumburg, Hanover Park, West Rogers Park, and Naperville, their largest location.