Last updated on March 25th, 2021 at 07:23 pm
In 1955, John Siakotos made the long journey to the U.S. from southern Greece. His uncle brought him to America so he could have a shot at a better future. Siakotos began working at his uncle’s fruit market in Chicago and his life did indeed begin to improve. As the fruit market prospered over the years, Siakotos and his uncle were able to expand their line of goods, eventually selling vegetables, meat and groceries.
In 1971, good fortune and hard work made it possible for Siakotos to open his own grocery business, Freshline Foods, in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn. The store’s original footprint was a modest 7,500 s.f.
“We had one kind of toilet paper, one kind of tomato sauce—just one of everything really. Things were much simpler back in those days,” said John Siakotos.
In the early 1980s, Peter Siakotos, John’s son, began working with his dad in the family business. The father-and-son duo have expanded the store three times to its current 22,000 s.f. Their growth over the last 46 years is a result of their expert service and commitment to their customers, they believe. The neighborhoods surrounding the store are changing as younger families move in. To keep pace, the store continually evolves to satisfy new shoppers.
“We’ve always been known for our fresh meat, as well as our produce and deli,” Peter said. “More and more, it’s about convenience with the younger crowd. Of course, we still have quite a few customers that cook at home. It’s a good mix that keeps us on our toes.”
They recently made the switch to Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) as their grocery supplier.
“We went with AWG because they’re solid. That was very important to us,” John said. “We’re a one-store operation. Our store is our livelihood. We don’t like taking unnecessary risks.”
One of the first visible changes was stocking AWG’s private label brands on the shelves.
“The Best Choice product packaging really impressed us,” Peter said. “They have a huge variety of products and our customers want choices and good deals. Plus, these products are 100 percent guaranteed. It’s a win-win.”
AWG Business Development Director Dave McKelvey said, “Freshline Foods is the definition of the original independent grocer. They have one store that’s surrounded by competition. We’re glad they partnered with us. We’re going to help them however we can so they stay successful.”
At the fun-loving age of 83, John is in the store seven days a week without fail, helping customers and doing whatever needs to be done. When asked what his favorite part of the business is, he answered, “The people—our employees and our customers. I’ve always loved that side of it. It keeps me going.”