CHICAGO There's a reason you don't hear about discos in grocery stores every day: The logistics are anything but easy. For the grand opening of Mariano's Greektown location on October 29, “we thought it would be fun to do a kind of play on the address of 40 South Halsted with a 'Studio 40' party,” said Kehoe Designs event producer Lindsey Lider, who has worked on five other Mariano's store openings. As fun as it was, “this is one of the most challenging setups and strikes for us as a company.”
The challenges started at load-in, as the event took place on the second floor and both of the freight elevators were occupied with store deliveries. “We were ultimately left with the passenger elevators, and had to plan one strategic trip in the freight elevator for the largest items,” Lider said. Setup also required some strategic thinking. “We have to use what we can in the store,” Lider said, “so we built tabletops over the freezers, used the produce area for cocktails, and built dessert shelving around existing hot food bars.”
Then, there was the issue of timing. “Mariano's always opens the store at 6 a.m. the morning following an event, so we have to work very closely with the store managers to be sure we clear out certain areas of the store at certain times.” For example, event staffers had to clear the produce area just 45 minutes after the party's 10 p.m. wrap time so that Mariano's produce staffers could start setting up for the next day.
Despite the behind-the-scenes challenges, the event had a glittering, carefree vibe. Disco balls popped up everywhere and costumed dancers shimmied in short dresses adorned with fruit. Tabletops were decorated with artichokes, baby eggplants, and other items from the produce aisles, and the ceiling above the dance floor was chockablock with shiny white balloons. Dozens of Chicago bigwigs, including Governor Pat Quinn, were among the evening's sequin-flecked guests.