A Brookfield businessman is in the process of transforming a long blighted, former Kohl’s Food Store space at a shopping center on West Silver Spring Drive near North 64 Street on Milwaukee northwest side in to the first full-fledged supermarket that area has had in years.
Bharat Bansal, who owns two Sentry stores in Milwaukee at 71st Street and Lisbon Avenue and 92nd Street and Lisbon Avenue, recently applied to the city for licenses to operate the business.
Bansal, who purchased the Lisbon Avenue Sentry stores a couple years ago, said he’s eager to provide fresh produce, meat and other perishable and nonperishable groceries, to the space at 64th and Silver Spring, in an area that could arguably be called a food desert. The last businesses to occupy the storefront, MKE Food Market and Silver Spring Foodtown did not last long.
“We would like to provide fresh food to the community,” Bansal said,
He said Friday that he is investing roughly $1.1 million into the 14,000-square-foot storefront, which is an aging retail stripmall at 6350 W. Silver Springs Drive, across the street from the Westlawn Gardens housing development. Bansal is leasing the storefront from an Illinois investor who owns the strip mall.
Upgrades to the space will include new floors, coolers, bathrooms, cash registers and checkout equipment.
“We are doing a lot of work,” Bansal said.
Bansal hopes to open the new store by end of June and hire about 30 people from the surrounding neighborhood.
Sentry, which got its start in Milwaukee, once had dozens of stores across the state. Today there are only 11 Sentry stores, all in Wisconsin. The Sentry Foods brand is now owned and licensed by United Natural Foods, Inc. or UNFI, a food wholesaler that also owns SuperValu, and has a wholesale agreement with Amazon-owned grocery giant Whole Foods.