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Entrepreneur breathes life into dormant gas station

Anna’s Nick: Nick Gianaris owner soon-to-be-open Anna’s Marketplace   Car Wash Zichecks progress place. | TinJohanssfor Sun-Times Media

Anna’s Nick: Nick Gianaris, owner of the soon-to-be-open Anna’s Marketplace & Car Wash in Zion, checks on the progress at the place. | Tina Johansson for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 7, 2013 2:41AM

A gas station/convenience store that was built several years ago but never opened has finally been taken over by a local company known for its customer service.

Crews are working non-stop to have the place ready to open within the next few weeks.

Nick Gianaris, owner of Anna’s Marketplace in Beach Park, bought the place in Zion at the southeast corner of Green Bay Road and Route 173 in a foreclosure deal in March. He said city officials are thrilled the place will soon become an operating business.

“They have been very pro-business, and I can’t say enough about Mayor (Lane) Harrison and Commissioner (Jim) Taylor,” said Gianaris.

The owner said Anna’s is expected to create a dozen jobs, with more than half coming from Zion.

Five years ago, the building was constructed, and when he took possession, it was 90 percent complete, said Gianaris. Among other things, his crews gave the place freshly painted green walls, and a granite counter was installed “just like our other store.”

The lot is spacious with nearly 1½ acres, and the gas station has ten fueling points, including one for diesel. The store measures 3,500 square feet with a full array of groceries, soft drinks, lottery tickets, an ATM and check-cashing services.

The owner has been in talks with a major franchise operation to open an eatery on the side of his convenience store, which is separated by a wall and second entrance. “I’m sure there will be a lot of activity here,” said Gianaris.

The car wash offers many unique things including a bio-degradable, environmentally-friendly hot water wash. “Most others use cold water,” he said. “This is our first foray into a touch-free wash, also,” said Gianaris.

“For the first month we’ll be giving a free car wash to every customer who buys gas, as well as free soda to every customer who buys gas. And we’ll be giving away samples of our sandwiches,” said the owner.

Shell Oil will supply the gasoline, and like Anna’s in Beach Park, customers that get a car wash will also get a discount of 20 cents per gallon for gas.

A strip mall, which includes a Subway Sandwich shop, sits in back of the gas station and is owned by a separate company.

Gianaris, CEO of Kaloco Oil Company in Morton Grove which has been around since 1987, initially had plans to open a second Beach Park store on Green Bay Road. However that deal fell through.

“We love the area and that’s why we continued to look. I guess one door was closed and another one opened. Like they say, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’” said the owner, adding, “We’re always looking to expand in Lake County.” He wants interested parties to give him a call at (847) 966-9300.

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