Haddad's Could Ignite Bigger, Better Economy

By Anna Yee

November 29, 2011 Updated Nov 29, 2011 at 7:31 PM CDT

WEST PEORIA, Ill. -- It's a milestone for one of the most well-known Mom and Pop stores in the area.

Haddad's West Peoria Market is back open after nearly a year of rebuilding from the ashes.

"The community really felt a loss up here when the store burned down," said Mark Wrhel, Haddad's owner and operator.

"People treated almost like it was a funeral, like their best friend just passed away, and my hope was to correct that thought process in that it's not a funeral, it's a new beginning."

...A new beginning with new features, like expanded aisles and a place to relax and reminisce about the old store.

"I like the dining area," said Teania Johnson, a longtime Haddad's customer. "You can sit and eat over in the deli area. Just glad to see that my favorite store is back up and running."

"It reminds me of the older one, the shape and the size and stuff, and it looks fabulous," said Fred Masters. "This is my first visit, but I'll be back."

Customers like Fred Masters have been coming to Haddad's for years.

Now, new faces are already making their way inside, including 8 new hires.

Vickie Clark, the President of the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois, says the extra business will boost our economy.

"I think you'll see some filtering into the Peoria area as a whole, and then when people go out and spend money, they spend it all throughout the region," said Clark.

That indirect profit is expected to total more than three and a half million dollars each year, a big contribution from a small town store.

"I really hope that this betters the community," said Wrhel. "I think that this community in particular of West Peoria is at a loss without a grocery store in it."

...A grocery store that customers and employees seem to agree will never really change.

"Even though it's a new building, it's still going to be the same," said Ann White, a Haddad's employee of more than 30 years. "It's just a neighborhood store."