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ST. JOHN — Strack & Van Til is wrapping up a major renovation of its St. John store that has added many new features, including a pineapple coring machine, a keto section and expanded international and plant-based protein selections.

The store at 9825 Wicker Ave. expanded its floral section, which was moved to the front. It also boosted its produce selection by at least 10% and expanded its offerings of cut fruit, pre-packaged meals, natural and organic foods and meatless alternatives, according to Strack & Van Til Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer Michael Tyson. And, it nearly doubled its variety of value items.

The project took four months and included a remodeling of the decor to make it more modern.

"The pineapple coring machine takes a whole pineapple, cores it and puts the fresh rounds in a cup," Tyson said. "I've seen it in some other states, but I haven't seen it in this market."

The store added more easy-to-cook options for a quick meal, such as a slow-cooker dinner kit. It added more pre-packaged salads and plant proteins, including pasta and vegan burgers from brands like Beyond Burger and Smithfield Foods. It expects to have Impossible Burgers in as soon as four weeks.

"That's becoming big," Tyson said. "All of these changes are to keep up with the trends, the items that are trending with customers now. We're trying to stay up with the trends and make people's lives easier through feeding them."

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An expanded international section includes more European, Italian and Hispanic items. The supermarket will have more gluten-free and vegan items as well as more craft beer.

"We'll have 10 local beers, including St. John Malt Brothers, Off Square, Devil's Trumpet and 3 Floyds," he said.

A grand reopening celebration is planned at 8 a.m. Oct. 23. Those who turn out can win prizes that include gift cards and tickets to the Blackhawks, the Chicago Theatre and "Penn & Teller." 

The store will host healthy eating demonstrations, offering samples of new products on the day of the grand reopening and for the next four weeks.

For more information, visit www.strackandvantil.com.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.