When a small mom and pop establishment opens its doors in 1948 and continues to thrive in the midst of modern challenges, there is a reason for its success. In the case of John’s Grocery in the heart of Iowa City, there are several reasons.
John’s Grocery, an Iowa City tradition, has stayed focused on the needs of its customers and the community for the last 67 years. Averaging 5,000 – 6,000 customers each week, the store is a popular destination which offers an impressive selection of over 3,000 beers, over1,000 wines, a deli and a bakery. One of the owners of John’s Grocery, Doug Alberhasky, told us more about what makes John’s Grocery an Iowa City tradition.
Tell us about the background of John’s Grocery. How did it start?
My grandfather, John, served in the Navy in World War II. During his service, he worked random jobs. He had an entrepreneurial spirit and would purchase war bonds and send them to my grandmother. Upon returning from the war, he was working at his brother’s bar, The Central Tap. He had an opportunity to purchase our building, which he did. After he bought it, he turned it into John’s Grocery. At the time, there were 28 corner grocery stores in Iowa City. Now, we’re the last one and we continue to grow to meet the needs of our customers!
Why do people keep coming back to John’s Grocery?
People come back because of our great service and knowledge, our location and our history. We’ve been a part of Iowa City for generations. It’s a throwback to easier times, when you knew your neighbor. And, you can’t get our products everywhere else. We are one of the only places you can special order something and get local products.
You are the third generation in your family to run the store. Why do you enjoy it so much?
I started working here when I was six and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s fun. It’s challenging. Every day is different. I love working for myself and serving the people of Iowa City. Without them, there is no John’s Grocery. We’re doing our best to stay relevant in our offerings and stay ahead of the trends in our business. We have to keep finding ways to move our small mom and pop store forward. We have a lot of positive changes coming that we’re excited about. I also enjoy hearing others tell us they use ideas they got from our store. I’m very flattered by that.
What do you like about banking with MidWestOne?
MidWestOne handles all of our issues quickly and with great communication. I appreciate that. And, they are truly a part of the community. They’re involved in so much. I got to know many of the branch managers because of our involvement with the Optimist Club. MidWestOne does so much for so many in our area. I’m a high school baseball coach, too, and they make generous donations to many of our local schools and youth groups. It’s great!