December 4, 2006

Taste of the World ; New Grocery Opens on North Side

The north end of Springfield has a new grocery, and this one is stocked with international foods.

Artina International Grocery Store, 614 North Grand Ave. E., specializes in African, Asian, Caribbean, Hispanic and Jamaican fare.

Tucked into a storefront next to a Subway sandwich shop, the business is run by Dominic Nimpson, a Springfield man who works by day as a project manager for Caterpillar in Peoria.

He decided to open the store because the Asian International Grocery on Cockrell Lane closed after being damaged in last March's tornadoes.

"Since then, my friends and family members travel to Chicago and other cities to get specialty groceries," said Nimpson, who was born in Liberia. He moved here in 1994 to study at the University of Illinois at Springfield and has since earned master's degrees in both accounting and information services.

The store carries about 250 products, including guava paste, canned eggplant, sardines, ogbono nuts, plantain chips, fish sauce, yam powder, coconut milk and dried crayfish. Freezer and refrigerated cases hold fish, chicken, sausage and some produce, such as banana leaves and jute leaves.

In addition to international foods, there are candy bars, snack foods, beer and cigarettes.

Nimpson encourages special orders.

"We have catalogs with thousands of items. It's unlimited what we can bring in," he said.

Nimpson himself likes to cook. One of his specialties is a hearty spinach stew, full of meat, fish and rice.

The new store still is being stocked.

"We carry the top items, but we want customers to drive us. We want to know what they want," Nimpson said. If successful, he'd like to expand the store.

Artina International Grocery Store is open from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. The telephone number is 523-4050.

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