New family-owned grocery store to open in downtown North St. Paul

From left, Frank Atencio, Dawn Parks, Philip Parks and business owner Emad Almaliki work on interior renovations. Almaliki hopes to open his grocery store by the end of the month, or early May.  (Erin Hinrichs/Review)
From left, Frank Atencio, Dawn Parks, Philip Parks and business owner Emad Almaliki work on interior renovations. Almaliki hopes to open his grocery store by the end of the month, or early May. (Erin Hinrichs/Review)

Taking spring cleaning to the extreme, two longtime downtown North St. Paul storefronts — Frank Slattery’s furniture showroom and Greg Bradley’s motorcycle gear/plumbing fixtures store — held close-out sales this spring, clearing their places to the walls.

Over the years, both have witnessed the ebb and flow of foot traffic to the downtown business district, affected by factors like the turnover in neighboring businesses and access to Highway 36.

For instance, Keindel’s grocery store closed in the fall of 2005, forcing residents to leave city limits to stock their cupboards for several years, prior to Target expanding its grocery department.

But the addition of a new grocery store at 2533 E. Seventh Ave. may soon supply residents with the option to do at least some of their shopping downtown.

“It’s going to be called ‘MN Grocery and Tobacco,” said 27-year-old business owner Emad Almaliki.

He said it’ll be more of a convenience-type store, stocked with items like frozen pizza, dairy, bread, produce, candy, chips, pop, lottery tickets and cigarettes.

In addition, he’ll be designating an entire wall for items marked at $1, which will include toys for kids, tape and other odds and ends.

“It’s all the basic stuff you really need,” said Almaliki’s friend Frank Atencio, while helping renovate the store’s interior.

Seven days a week

Right now, Almaliki is waiting on routine approvals, such as from the Ramsey County Public Health Department, before the city’s building official, Jim Henneck, can issue a permit.

If things move smoothly, Almaliki hopes to open for business — seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. — by the end of the month, or early May.

The city’s community development director, Paul Ammerman, said the new business owner is also applying for a license to sell cigarettes. But he hopes the store will provide grocery items of more substance as well.

“From a city perspective, I hope they would look around and look at the new Polar Ridge [complex] — 114 units of seniors — and kind of cater to their needs,” Ammerman said.

As Almaliki plots out his inventory, he said he’ll be using his brother’s store, Winnipeg Grocery, located off Rice Street and Winnipeg Avenue West, as a guide.

Acknowledging the proximity of senior living complexes to his new store, Almaliki said he will be open to catering to special requests for new items.

Atencio added that based on inquiries from curious passersby, they’ve been discussing the possibility of offering additional services.

“They said, ‘Are you going to do delivery service?’ It’s a possibility,” Atencio said.

Almaliki has been working at his brother’s store since it opened in 2009 and anticipates finding success of his own by running a similar grocery business in North St. Paul.

“It’s a busy street, a lot of people driving there, a lot of people coming to the bars over there,” he said, describing his store’s location.

Utilizing the support of his siblings and friends, Almaliki doesn’t foresee any need to hire outside help for the time being.

He lives in Fridley with his parents and six siblings, who all moved to the U.S. from Iraq in 2003. Almaliki graduated from Coon Rapids High School and holds a degree in nursing.

Erin Hinrichs can be reached at 651-748-7814 and ehinrichs@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/EHinrichsNews.
 

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