New grocery store offers ethnic choices amongst college amenities


Tim Dodge

The Huskie Grocery Store, LLC located at 901 Lucinda Ave. The store offers a selection of food that caters to an array Indian and Asian students. (Tim Dodge | Norther Star)

By Rachel Cormier, News Reporter

DeKALB – A new grocery store at the Village Commons Bookstore lot is looking to become the go-to spot on campus for college amenities; but besides ramen and laundry detergent, this store is stocking some specific items you wouldn’t find at your normal 7-Eleven.

The new convenience store, Huskie Grocery Store, LLC, located 901 Lucinda Ave., has taken over the former spot of the Hot Spot Food and Deli grocery store. Owner Adil Almahi opened his first business, Huskie Grocery, and was inspired by his former job as an Uber driver.

“I came to DeKalb, 2019. I was driving Uber, looking around the street, and I pick up a lot of students at NIU,” Almahi said. “I see they walk all the way from NIU to 7-Eleven, and some have money for Uber, some do not.”

Almahi said he was inspired to open the store because of NIU students. Part of his location choice was driven by the convenience of sitting across from the campus instead of farther away, like Walmart. Almahi is also in the process of making NIU Huskie Bucks available as a future payment option.

In addition to soda, candy bars and tide pods, Almahi specifically chose to cater a majority of his items to NIU’s ethnic student population that he frequently saw as his Uber customers.

“One thing I saw was the large percentage of Indian and Asian students that I drove back and forth. So I supply lots of things they would normally go far to get,” Almahi said.

Whole bags of rice can be found in the back, while another shelf features spices like paprika, star anise and cumin. An entire shelf is dedicated to Indian meals, from Apna Food Imports brand ready-made meals from curries like Dal Makhani, a North Indian dish made from black gram and kidney beans, to Palak Paneer, Indian cottage cheese chunks in a spiced spinach gravy.

Shoppers can still find familiar American brands like Crunch bars and Dawn dish soap, but the store provides several items of a different variety close by, letting customers experiment from their usual Oreos with a pack of Marianitas cookies or a Gatorade with coconut juice instead.

Almahi is dedicating a section of his frozen items to foods normally eaten during Ramadan, a month of fasting observed by Muslims that begins Thursday and ends April 21.

He said he will be supplying frozen food to 65 Sudanese families that live in the DeKalb area who would usually have to travel to Chicago to find Ramadan specific items. Almahi is expecting to get the food soon while he currently repairs the freezers and the coffee machine left by the former vendor.

To celebrate the store’s opening, Almahi will offer free coffee to the DeKalb community for its first month once the machine is set up and free coffee to NIU students from 9 a.m. to noon every Monday following.

The store is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day of the week.