Family Wine & Liquor, a liquor store in the Southgate Shopping Center in Homewood, has almost doubled its space. This has allowed for more room for customers to walk while browsing, less product that has to be temporarily stored in the back and new, walk-in coolers for beer and hard cider that stretch almost the entire length of the store.
Thomas’ Photographic Services previously occupied the expanded area of the store before they moved across the street in early 2023. Ronakkumar Patel, the owner of Family Wine & Liquor, said he’d planned to expand the store since he first bought it from the previous owners a few years ago. Patel, who also bought the building, waited until Thomas’ Photographic Services’ lease was up before beginning the expansion.
Sam Robert, the beer buyer at Family Wine & Liquor, said products were never hidden in the back of the store. Although a larger quantity of each product can be displayed now, he said.
“When we knocked the wall down, the beers just kind of fell over into the other side,” Robert said. “With the old coolers, it was more of a constant juggling process of what’s in the cooler and when. And now, there’s just more cooler space to have everything in the cooler at once.”
Many of the beers now kept in the coolers previously had been kept at room temperature. Before the expansion, the hard ciders were rarely kept in the cooler, Patel and Robert said. Now an entire cooler is filled with hard cider.
“I almost can’t pick a beer off the shelf. It’s so hard to choose. Too many to choose from,” said Homewood resident Mathew Unruh while browsing the new coolers at Family Wine & Liquor. “All different independent breweries. A bunch of local ones. A bunch of Chicago. I haven’t seen [a beer selection] this diversified.”
“We have almost 300 different craft beers,” Patel said. “We added a 16-door walk-in cooler. So, altogether, now we have almost a 24-door cooler.”
Robert said the beers are more organized by brand and style than they used to be. Patel said new shelving was added for the wine and spirits.
Bob Garrity, a Homewood resident who owns Ink-N-Um, a tattoo shop in the same shopping center, said he was almost worried he’d run into something when walking down the smaller aisles of the old store.
“They opened it up so you can breathe,” Garrity said.
Patel, who also owns Cork Gaming and Wine Bar in Flossmoor, said the expanded space will allow for their wine-tasting event previously held at Cork to be at Family Wine & Liquor this year. The wine-tasting event is held in the summer and around every major holiday, Patel said.
Family Wine & Liquor is at 18707 Dixie Highway. It’s open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m.