New market offers Rockford fresh fish, produce, Asian food

July 1, 1993

New market offers Rockford fresh fish, produce, Asian food

By Brandon Reid, Assistant Editor

From outside, it appears as if a pet store with a little something extra, as fish swimming in a fish tank are displayed in a window that also showcases neon “Pabst” and “Old Style” signs. Yet, one step inside Nature’s Alpine Market, a new addition to the redefining Colonial Village Mall (now referred to as “the Village” in recent commercials), reveals an onslaught of numerous teas, fresh fish, fresh produce, Asian candy and other items such as “Shrimp Flavored Crackers” and dried shrimp.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held outside the front doors of the market April 3 as Rockford Mayor Doug Scott, joined by members of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce, cut the ceremonial red ribbon welcoming the market to the community.

“This is great,” Scott said. “It really adds something great that we didn’t have in the community. It’s really great for the city and it really does highlight a lot of the great things happening in our city. We know that it’s very quickly going to become a place where a lot of people will want to come.”

The market’s owner, Jia Qiang Dong, 26, who also owns the mall’s 21 Century (Chinese) Buffet, said the market will focus on providing fresh, healthy foods for customers at low prices. The market will be largely family-run, he added.

“The economy’s not doing too well, so we try to get lower prices,” Dong said. “I don’t like people to eat too much meat, so we sell healthy foods. I suggest people eat more seafood and fruit than meat.”

Dong said the market will also teach people how to cut fresh fish because, “people know how to eat fish, but they don’t know how to cut it.”

Dong, who moved to Rockford from Baltimore, Md., two years ago, opened the 21 Century Buffet Feb. 19, 2002, and said he had been planning to open the market for about two or three years. He said he learned the restaurant business after working with his father, who owned a Chinese restaurant in Baltimore and had worked in restaurants for about 20 years. Dong said his uncle, who recommended Dong open a restaurant in Rockford, also runs a similar restaurant in New Jersey.

“Rockford is good price and has a lot of people,” Dong said. “All the people can come in and we have lower-priced, quality food. So they can save money here.”

Nature’s Alpine Market, 1292 S. Alpine Rd., is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 986-2260.

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