Driving down North Avenue through Carol Stream, you can’t help but notice the new corporate headquarters of Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets. Dazzling white, with a few well-chosen details, its ultramodern facade stretches for nearly a quarter of a mile west of Schmale Road.
That positive impression is reinforced in the soaring two-story lobby with its curving staircase and earth-tone walls accented with contemporary renderings of Corinthian columns.
And there are homey touches, too: family photos of founders Angelo and Romana Caputo from the 1950s, a colorful cornucopia enshrined on a table that echoes the company logo, and the heady aroma of soups, meats and other culinary delights wafting from within.
Welcome to the next generation of Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets, where tradition and modernity come together to shape a bright future for one of the community’s legendary family businesses.
“We were running out of space in our old warehouse, but we weren’t looking for a property THIS big,” emphasizes Robertino Presta, president of the company and son-in-law of the founder. “This fell into our laps, and with all that extra space, we saw a lot of opportunity.”
How much space, exactly? Thirty acres total, with a 300,000-square-foot facility, 100,000 of which are devoted to a breathtaking new grocery store that will be up and running this summer. (More on that in the coming months.)
And the remaining 200,000 square feet? The warehouse and corporate offices that currently serve stores in Addison, Bloomingdale, Downers Grove, Elmwood Park, Hanover Park, Naperville and South Elgin, with plenty of room for growth. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Along one long wall is kitchen after kitchen filled with gleaming equipment that conjures up a dizzying array of baked goods; fresh sausages; roasted meats; salads and entrees; soups and sauces; pastas, panzerotti and arancini; and so much more.
There’s an economy of scale in centralizing food production that Caputo’s is happy to pass along to its customers. But there’s a less tangible benefit that’s just as important.
“We have these great recipes that we previously prepared at each store,” Presta explains. “We did a good job of maintaining consistency from store to store, but preparing everything in one place allows us to take our quality to a whole new level.”
A state-of-the-art cook-chill process takes prepared foods from a few hundred degrees to just above freezing in less than an hour, greatly enhancing freshness and shelf life. And more than a dozen holding coolers keep each category of product at just the right temperature.
Centralization also engenders creativity, according to Presta. “We can develop a product, field customer input and ask ‘What’s next?’ in a way that we couldn’t when we were preparing foods at the individual stores.”
Overseeing the company’s vast culinary operations are corporate chef Francesco Chiaramonte, line chef Eugenio Paladino and master pizzaiolo Leo Spizzirri.
Since they were starting from scratch, Caputo’s decided to go all green with their new facilities, installing LED lighting throughout, instituting a comprehensive recycling program, and switching from Freon to more environmentally friendly C02 throughout its cooling systems, making it the first facility in America and the largest one in the world to do so.
“We are so proud of what we’ve accomplished here,” Presta shares, “and we’re so proud of the many ways that our communities and customers will benefit.”
520 E. North Ave.
Carol Stream, IL 60188