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Marino’s grocery store expansion surges economic development in District 8 while addressing food desert concerns

District 8 houses some of Birmingham’s most valuable treasures of economic development. From the world renown Birmingham Crossplex sports facility to the bustling energy of diverse restaurants that touts Birmingham’s most robust cuisines, Birmingham’s west side is without a doubt scheduled for a comeback and business owners are taking notice.

In the eyes of life-long proud Ensley resident and businessman, Anthony Marino, whose also an heir of Marino’s grocery store, the treasure that exists in District 8 is well known as he is seeking to capitalize on investing in more nutritional based retail options.

“I want to be a participant and help bring west Birmingham back to the glory days like when I grew up,” said Marino. “We had a kiddie-land park, movie theater and bowling alley. Our community needs that same experience and I plan to help set the pace, especially as downtown is continuing to redevelop.”

Marino, whose Italian great-grandfather of Sicilian decent Tony, began Marino grocery store chains in the City of Fairfield in1925, took on his families’ legacy of responsibility and has consistently served to help meet the grocery needs of the western area and surrounding Birmingham communities.

This week Birmingham City Councilors will consider a vote to approve a public hearing for a zoning proposal ordinance to expand the facility by 5, 523 square feet. Changing the zoning district boundaries from R-3, Single Family District, to B-2 General Business District. The property is surrounded by Single Family homes, all of which are zoned R-3, while north and west of the subject property is zoned CB-2, Contingency Business District.

Also included in the zoning proposal, Marino will completely remodel and replace all interior refrigerated display cases to provide a much larger variety of meats, fruits, and vegetables as well as enlarging the interior sales floor to allow space for special low priced grocery items to save customers money on their complete grocery budgets.

The grocery store expansion comes at the onslaught of growing food deserts, areas of the country that are lifeless of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas.

An estimated 88,000 Birmingham residents live in food deserts, a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers, plague Birmingham communities that suffer from blight.

Birmingham City Councilors have fought vigorously to consistently introduce economic development solutions that will attract potential nutritional solutions by way of community gardens and farmers markets and food trucks circulating throughout the city.

Marino, whose also the Chair of District 8’s annual community extravaganza “Party With A Purpose,” believes in investing quality service and improvements as he continues to build Marino’s into a premier grocery shopping experience complete with technology advancements.

“When you’re young you always say it’s the old people’s job to take care of things and make things happen in our communities,” Marino said. “Well I’m the ‘older person’ now so I’m not going to sidestep that responsibility. I’ve been charged with making a difference, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Birmingham City Councilor Steven Hoyt echoes the sentiments of Marino as he envisions more grocery store expansions not only within the District 8 communities, but also all over Birmingham.

“Citizens who are dedicated to action plans, especially when there is a dire need, always have my utmost support,” said Councilor Hoyt. “As the African proverb says, it takes a village to raise our children, I believe it also takes a village to recognize and address the needs of our communities to not just merely exist, but thrive and prosper in every way possible. I’m just humbled to help lead that process and be a part of that movement.”


This article is a contribution from Chiara Perry ( in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.