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Though Haddad’s Market is no longer locally owned, nothing expected to change

Leslie Renken
Journal Star
Mark Wrhel, the former owner of Haddad's West Peoria Market, is now the general manager after selling the century-old grocery store to a businessman in northern Illinois.

WEST PEORIA — Locally owned for more than 100 years, Haddad’s West Peoria Market was recently purchased by a businessman from northern Illinois.

While that’s a major change, customers won’t see anything different, said Mark Wrhel, the former owner who became general manager of the store last week.

“There will be absolutely no change,” he said. “The customers will see the same faces, the same products, the same recipes — everything.”

Haddad’s, which celebrated 100 years of business in 2019, was first located in south Peoria. Haddad’s opened a store in West Peoria in 1964, and moved to the current location, 2407 W Rohmann Ave., in 1981.

The Haddad family was one of many Lebanese families who operated grocery stores in Peoria, according to Randy Couri, editor of “The Story of Us,” a history of Peoria’s Itoo Society. During the Great Depression there were no fewer than 14 Lebanese-owned grocery stores in Peoria and East Peoria.

Wrhel’s father purchased the West Peoria store from the Haddad family in 2004.

“I was in high school when my father bought this store from the Haddads,” said Wrhel. “I had graduated from high school and was in college when he started having some health issues and he brought me back home to help out, and 26 years later I’m still doing it. ... Dad helped me, and Haddad was still here — Haddad was my real college professor. He taught me all the ins and outs of the business.”

Wrhel said he has been looking for a buyer for about two years.

“Mainly my desire was to have more free time to spend with family,” he said. “At this point in life I was looking to reduce the workload.”

Wrhel said he plans to keep working at the store into the foreseeable future.

“I’m still planning to work as the general manager running the day to day business for the store, at least for a while,” he said. “I’m making sure the place stays successful and well-run.”

The investor wishes to remain anonymous. While he is not in the grocery business, he is in a related business, said Wrhel.

“He loves the store, loves the way we do business, and looks at this as an opportunity to pick up a successful, well-respected biz to add to his business portfolio.”

Leslie Renken can be reached at 270-8503 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.