Here's an unfamiliar sight in Lake Forest: Ermanno Amidei indoors.
For 20 years Mr. Amidei has worked in the alley behind the Marshall Fields building in downtown Lake Forest, selling the freshest produce this side of the nearest cornfield. But the building is being renovated to accommodate J. Crew and other new tenants,
causing a mess that is not conducive to the sales of pears, pumpkins, parsnips and figs. So he packed everything up moved into vacant retail space at 215 Westminster.
Will Amidei Mercantino return to the alley anytime soon? Mr. Amidei hopes so. "We'll be here till the end of the year for sure–after that it's in the hands of the landlord," he told GazeboNews. "If he goes up in price on rent … ah … But he's been very nice so far."
Mr. Amidei usually closes the produce market by Halloween, but this year he plans to remain open through the Christmas holidays. He said many loyal customers miss the produce selection from Don's Finest Foods and asked him to stay open as long as possible. The indoor market is clean, bright and brimming with selections, much like a European market. But Mr. Amidei is nostalgic. "I like the outdoors better," he said.
Fortunately, he will soon get to alternate between the heat and cold, as he is planning to sell holiday trees, wreaths and flower pots from the alley.
Does this mean residents can recycle their J. Crew catalogs before holiday shopping season? Susan Kelsey, Lake Forest's Economic Development Coordinator, said J. Crew is working hard to complete the renovation on the north end of the Fields building in time for a mid-November opening. And, she added: "We are anticipating good news soon on another tenant."