Highland Park honors deeply-rooted businesses
George Anton, owner of Anton's Fruit Ranch in Highland Park, stands in the delicatessen section of the store. Anton's was among 12 enterprises recently honored for longevity by the City of Highland Park. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 11, 2013 5:05PM
HIGHLAND PARK — Starting a business is hard enough. Staying in business can be even harder.
So the City of Highland Park isn’t limiting the fanfare to grand openings about town, but making a point to recognize its longtime businesses with deep roots and staying power in the community.
A dozen businesses and institutions last month became the latest to be recognized for at least 50 years of longevity. In terms of age, they ranged from the half-century-old Guy Scopelliti Original Landscaping and Highland Park Pools & Supplies to the 116-year-old Exmoor Country Club.
So far, 37 businesses and institutions have been feted since the fall of 2010.
“These long-standing businesses serve as an example to all businesses of how hard work, dedication to providing high-quality service and products, and adapting to the market can lead to long-term success,” said Carolyn Hersch, who heads the city’s office of economic development.
The dexterity to adapt to changing consumer habits has been key for Anton’s Fruit Ranch, 300 Skokie Valley Road, which was among the businesses recently recognized.
When George Anton’s father Peter opened the store in 1949, it was a general grocery store that not only offered top-quality produce but attempted to offer the full spectrum of consumers’ grocery and household needs. When it opened, the store was located on Skokie Boulevard south of Lake-Cook Road in Northbrook.
As office buildings sprouted around the grocery store, George Anton, the shop’s current owner, relocated up the street in Highland Park. While fresh produce is still a main draw — a driver goes to Southwater Market about three times each week — the shop has evolved to offer an upscale mix of gourmet delicatessen products, fresh-baked goods and ready-to-eat hot and cold meals, salads, soups and sandwiches. The store still offers fresh-squeezed juices sold in glass bottles and even offers freshly shelled pomegranates for customers who want the health benefits without the hassle.
“George has watched food industry trends closely and established a niche market,” said his wife Peggy Anton. “Even during the bad economy, we have been able to stay in business because we offer the best products we can.”
While Exmoor was the oldest of the businesses recognized this year, the Old Elm Country Club wasn’t far behind at age 100.
Others honored this year were the Music Institute of Chicago, 61 years; the Highland Park Community Nursery School and Day Care Center, 61 years; Warren Sand Co., 60 years; The Birchwood Tennis Club, 55 years; and the Art Center of Highland Park, 52 years. Two professional practices were among those recognized: Associated Allergists and Asthma Specialists, 61 years: and dental practice of Andrew Altman, 62 years.