Grand Food Center grocery stores in Glencoe, Winnetka to be purchased by Sunset Foods

Grand Food Center grocery stores in Glencoe, Winnetka to be purchased by Sunset Foods

By DANIEL I. DORFMAN
PIONEER PRESS | NOV 09, 2021 AT 2:30 PM

A new ownership era is at hand for the Grand Food Center stores located in Glencoe and Winnetka.

Earlier this month, Sunset Foods announced it would purchase the two grocery stores from co-owners Dan Klebba and Kevin Salus, making the two stores part of the larger north suburban Sunset chain.

“We are thrilled to welcome The Grand to the Sunset family,” said John Cortesi, Sunset Foods President and CEO, in a statement. “We are both family businesses with very similar philosophies, and we look to continue the legacy of quality food and superior customer service in our new communities. Adding The Grand to Sunset Foods is a natural merge.”

Terms of the sale were not disclosed and the deal is expected to close in December, according to the Sunset statement.

For Klebba, the sale culminates a more than three-decade run as co-owner and a 40-year career in grocery stores.

He said he thought it was time to move on and wanted to make a change for family reasons, but acknowledges the emotions around the decision.

The Grand Food Center in Glencoe on Nov. 6, 2021. The store is being sold to Sunset Foods. (Brian OMahoney / Pioneer Press)

“After 40 years I feel a sadness for the separation from the customers that I have to come to know,” Klebba said. “I say hi to everybody at both stores virtually every day.”

Klebba said he would work as a consultant to Sunset shortly after the sale closes.

The sale marks a fresh chapter for the grocery shoppers in both communities. Klebba noted the Glencoe location opened in 1953 and the Winnetka store opened in 1963, each under different store names.

Klebba said in the late 1980s both supermarkets became known as the Grand Food Center and Sunset plans to keep the Grand name in place, according to the statement.

Maija Renko, a professor at DePaul University’s business college and the Coleman Chair of Entrepreneurship, labeled that decision a clever move.

“If the (Grand) have a loyal, local following and people go there because of the perception of it being an independent and local store, it makes perfect sense that they are keeping the brand,” Renko said. “They want to capitalize on the good will the brand already has in the community. It follows the trend you see in other sectors.”

The sale followed a pattern seen in other parts of the country, according to Jim Dudlicek, a spokesman for the National Grocers Association, which has more than 1,500 members nationwide.

While independent grocers enjoyed a record year in 2020, partially tied into the coronavirus pandemic, consolidation is becoming a more frequent occurrence with recent examples occurring in Oklahoma, Arizona and Wisconsin.
“It is not that unusual practice, it happens fairly regularly,” Dudlicek said.

Amy Mysel has been a long-time shopper at the Grand Food Center in Glencoe. The store is being sold to Sunset Foods. (Brian OMahoney / Pioneer Press)

As the name is set to remain the same, customers should not expect a massive overhaul inside the respective supermarkets, according to Sunset spokeswoman Sarah Hanlon.

“The Grand is established and doing a great job and we are going to continue to let them doing that,” Hanlon said. “But at some point we want to include some Sunset Foods signature items such as bakery items and deli favorites.”

Sunset plans to retain all 140 of the current Grand employees, according to the statement.

Sunset has five other locations in Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Long Grove and Northbrook.

Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter.

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