Tony’s Fresh Market, the family-owned Chicago area grocery chain that arrived in North Riverside in 2008 before decamping to the Cermak Plaza in Berwyn a decade later, has been acquired by Apollo Global Management, a New York-based private equity fund.
Terms of the deal weren’t announced. According to Apollo’s announcement of the sale, members of Tony’s founding family will “partner” as both shareholders and as management in the future.
“My family has been feeding our communities for generations and are incredibly excited to partner with Apollo to build on that legacy of fresh and healthy food, at an affordable price and delivered with respect to the many cultures of our customers,” said Frank Ingraffia, the CEO of Tony’s and a member of the company’s founding family.
This is not Apollo’s first foray into grocery sector investments. In 2011, the firm invested $200 million in a San Diego-based chain called Sprouts and consolidated it with another San Diego chain called Henry’s Farmers Market, which was a subsidiary of another Apollo purchase, Smart & Final.
By 2015, after taking Sprouts public, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Apollo reaped gains of more than 10 times that initial investment.
Apollo acquired another chain, The Fresh Market, in 2016 for $1.36 billion and took the public company, described in a Reuters article as a “moribund U.S. specialty grocery retailer,” private.
In 2021, Apollo signaled it would seek to take The Fresh Market public once again, although that has not yet transpired. Apollo also has invested in Albertson’s, the parent company of Jewel-Osco.
While Tony’s moved its retail operation out of North Riverside in 2018, a corporation managed by Ingraffia and Domenico Gambino still owns the shopping center where the store had been located.
IG Riverside LLC bought the North Riverside Park Plaza in September 2007 for $21,750,000 and took out a $17,400,000 mortgage to finance the purchase.
In 2017, there were a series of financial moves, beginning with the original mortgage terminating that July and Tony’s Finer Food Enterprises lending $10 million to IG Riverside LLC. In August 2017, ownership of the shopping center changed, with IG Capital LLC obtaining the property from IG Riverside LLC via quit claim deed. Both companies’ management partners are identical.
In October 2017, IG Capital LLC obtained a $43.8 million mortgage for multiple properties, including the North Riverside land, from Village Bank & Trust. That mortgage represented two loans, one of them a capital loan of $37.8 million. The unpaid principle on the capital loan was scheduled to come due in October 2022.
It is unclear whether Apollo’s purchase of Tony’s Fresh Market includes the North Riverside real estate holdings. Apollo Global Management did not respond to an email from the Landmark about any potential consolidation of operations or about the North Riverside Park Plaza.
North Riverside Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti said she had reached out to her contacts at Tony’s Fresh Market about the future of the North Riverside property to no avail.
“We’re trying to find out about that as well,” Scarpiniti said. “We haven’t been able to get any type of response.”