Lake Forest supermarket closes because of bank loan problem

A popular upscale supermarket in Lake Forest closed unexpectedly Tuesday morning after its owner fell behind on a bank loan and could no longer pay employees, the owner said. Full Story
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Phoebe McMillan

Lombard, IL

#2 Feb 27, 2008
I live in Lake Bluff and have been shopping at Dons and before when it was Janiwitz with my mother. I like the high quality of its food, meats fish and speciaity items I can find no where else.
I will be lost if Dons closes. Why can't people get organized in the community to work out your loan with The Northern Trust. For the years of community service that you have provided, people should step up and contribute towards paying off your loan so you can stay in business. You need a good auditor and accountant to straighten out this mess. Someone should raise some money if needed for you. There is plenty of it around this town. I am not the one to do this but there are many capable people in this community who should help out here. Shame on them if they don't.
Thanks. Phoebe McMillan
phoebemcm@sbcglobal.net
Bill

Warsaw, IN

#3 Feb 27, 2008
So the customers should bail out John Ruffolo for mismanaging the store his father worked so hard to build? Perhaps if he didn't overpay himself, his brother, his cousin, his sister etc. he wouldn't be in this mess. Perhaps if he didn't take yearly "wine tasting" vacations to California each year on the stores dime, while the bank has been telling him for years to fix this problem, this wouldn't have happened. John treated the store as his personal piggybank. His fathers love for his son blinded Don to what his sons were doing to the dream he had worked so hard to build.

It is not the communities job to bail them out. It would be nice if someone else would take it over and run it like a business.
Brian

Palm Desert, CA

#4 Feb 27, 2008
What a quote for new millennium "I will be lost..."

Yes, I guess edible food is not available on the north shore except at this one location. This lady and her family will go hungry and starve without help from the rest of
Chicago. Just like Africa!

With Starbucks closed, I suspect we'll be seeing mass suicides up there.

Let's have a tag day to feed north shore residents.

Makes you want to cry, reading crap like this.
Joe

Elkhart, IN

#5 Feb 27, 2008
I've lived in the Lake Forest community for a short time but have loved Don's since day one. I can't comment on how the business is run but hope it can be worked out with the bank. Their prepared food is like no other! It would be a shame to lose a fine store like this.

Steve Bachner

AOL

#6 Feb 27, 2008
Having worked in Lake Forest for over 13 years before coming to Highwood, I enjoyed many of the local businesses that were only to be found in Lake Forest. So many of the "Mom and Pop" type of stores that were so common to Lake Forest have all been swept aside due to increasing costs of doing business and soft sales due to the weakening economy.
Lake Forest used to have such unique, one of a kind type of merchants that was the charm of the shopping community. It is sad to see that what was once such a wonderful shopping district is now the land of the Financial institutions!
Don's was a mainstay and a landmark of sorts in Lake Forest, as was Marshall Fields/ Macy's.. Now both are gone, as are most of the charming stores that brought so many to shop in Lake Forest.
I used to be amazed by the loyalty of the consumers of Lake Forest, because goods and services there were more expensive than in other locales. However they supported their community like no other. Well in years past the community has changed and the once thriving downtown fell prey to the big box stores in surrounding communities and the consumers could no longer ignore the vast difference in prices. They now were willing to drive out to Vernon Hills and such to buy their goods.
We all must accept that times are changing and progress marches on in a free enterprise system, but it doesn't mean we have to like it!
Don's will be sorely missed and with any luck and if the township can rally for Don's perhaps they can save them from extinction. After all they rallied to keep the Gas Lights lit in town!
I wish the owners of Don's the best in the future and I hope they can remedy this situation not only for themselves but for their employees and the public that loved them so much.
Special places like Don's need to remain to show the Big Box companies that quality and customer service remain in high demand in a world where it is severely lacking.
Carry on Mr Ruffalo, stay strong and live to fight another day...
Steve Bachner, The Hair Studio by Steve
Director Highwood Chamber of Commerce
Dan

Indianapolis, IN

#7 Feb 27, 2008
Rally together to pay off their principle? Yeah right, because most LF residents got to where they are by making genius business decisions like that.

I grew up in Lake Forest and my parents still live there. I now work in consumer goods, and Don's is one of the worst check bouncers in the state. They have been in the Black Book (those who bounce checks to liquor distributors, getting cut off for all liquor sales) multiple times. Depending on when you went in, they didn't have Coke or Pepsi because they had bounced checks.

It is a shame that Don, one of the nicer people you will ever meet, will be remembered more for raising a bunch of theiving, mismanaging kids than anything.

Unlike most closings in Lake Forest, they can't blame the Mears' family for raising their rent...they just spent, spent, spent on themselves without a care for the reprecussions on their business.
SUVs

Chicago, IL

#8 Feb 27, 2008
Dan wrote:
Rally together to pay off their principle? Yeah right, because most LF residents got to where they are by making genius business decisions like that.
I grew up in Lake Forest and my parents still live there. I now work in consumer goods, and Don's is one of the worst check bouncers in the state. They have been in the Black Book (those who bounce checks to liquor distributors, getting cut off for all liquor sales) multiple times. Depending on when you went in, they didn't have Coke or Pepsi because they had bounced checks.
It is a shame that Don, one of the nicer people you will ever meet, will be remembered more for raising a bunch of theiving, mismanaging kids than anything.
Unlike most closings in Lake Forest, they can't blame the Mears' family for raising their rent...they just spent, spent, spent on themselves without a care for the reprecussions on their business.
Ouch! But probably true....
Phoebe McMillan

Lombard, IL

#9 Feb 27, 2008
Dear Brian,
My message is not all about "crap" in Lake Forest. As a cook and caterer I sometimes look for high quality produce, something that you apparently can't understand. You should limit your criticism to McDonalds where you belong. Or maybe the garbage dump is a better place for you.
Resident

Lake Forest, IL

#10 Feb 27, 2008
Can't the great Mayor think of anything else to say? What a moron. Maybe he is planning another Costco nearby.
Joe

Elkhart, IN

#11 Feb 27, 2008
Brian wrote:
What a quote for new millennium "I will be lost..."
Yes, I guess edible food is not available on the north shore except at this one location. This lady and her family will go hungry and starve without help from the rest of
Chicago. Just like Africa!
With Starbucks closed, I suspect we'll be seeing mass suicides up there.
Let's have a tag day to feed north shore residents.
Makes you want to cry, reading crap like this.
Brian,

I'm surprised you have internet access and a roof over your head in California. You should worry more about your sub-prime woes than Lake Forest's problems.
Darkwater

United States

#12 Feb 27, 2008
Ah, Northern Trust is the bank. Figures.
Brian

Palm Desert, CA

#13 Feb 27, 2008
Phoebe McMillan wrote:
Dear Brian,
My message is not all about "crap" in Lake Forest. As a cook and caterer I sometimes look for high quality produce, something that you apparently can't understand. You should limit your criticism to McDonalds where you belong. Or maybe the garbage dump is a better place for you.
Boo Hoo. I understand a self absorbed, whining yuppie when I read one, and you're one. What a tool! She can't find good food on the north shore.

I'm sure your family and customers will appreciate that you "sometimes" look for high quality. Maybe you'll have to tough it out at a regular store now.
Brian

Palm Desert, CA

#14 Feb 27, 2008
Joe wrote:
<quoted text>
Brian,
I'm surprised you have internet access and a roof over your head in California. You should worry more about your sub-prime woes than Lake Forest's problems.
And living in Lake Bluff, you would know a lot about that, wouldn't you?
Frank

Aurora, IL

#15 Feb 27, 2008
Everybody could always get in their cars and drive to West Lake Forest and buy the same items they loved so much from the Cortesi's at Sunset Foods. If you need the good meat there is a very nice butcher shop that opened in Lake Bluff about a year ago...by Don's former butcher.
Mary

Indianapolis, IN

#16 Feb 27, 2008
Will miss Dons. The shame is that this could be a very profitable business if properly managed. It (like Marshall Fields) had a very loyal customer base which would have continued. Always knew that we could count on the Don's meat to be the best. Again, a shame.
Casey

West Chicago, IL

#17 Feb 27, 2008
This seems to be a common fate for family owned businesses. The second generation often just can't pull it off.

And I don't think it's for lack of trying. I think it has something to do with living a dream that is really your parents' dream and not your own.
Resident

Evanston, IL

#18 Feb 27, 2008
I agree. The business environment for Don's was absolutely ideal and the food quality was, nearly always, exceptional. Further, they had some of the best employees on the North Shore.

Unfortunately, the (unqualified) management team, through irresponsible (to their customers and employees), incompetent, and downright lazy business practices squandered a store that would be difficult to run into the ground. In addition, it seems to a number of customers that cronyism has played a part in the firm's downfall.

I hope, however, that the citizens save this store. I feel odd, though, bailing out management that does not deserve it. If the citizens decide to help save this store, they should demand oversight, accountability, and, most definitely, new management.
Joe

Mundelein, IL

#19 Feb 27, 2008
Umm In the last year it was hard to get someone at dons just to smile. I'm sure if you can get the over paid kids out this biz would grow again.
P.S I shop there 2 time a week and love the small time feel. We must all support the small guys I know how hard it can be.
Resident

Evanston, IL

#21 Feb 27, 2008
Joe:

I will certainly agree with you about the (at least apparent) deterioration in morale in the recent past. However, it has been my experience, at least generally speaking, that "over paid" employees are the ones that smile most and work hardest. The ones that are underpaid are "hard to get...to smile". I hope this whole situation gets resolved quickly and with as little friction as possible.
David

Glen Ellyn, IL

#22 Feb 27, 2008
It is truly sad to see Don's go, however, as many stated in previous comments the fact they paid people unqualified to manage this establishment seems to be the major problem. As far as I am concerned, the people that smiled the least was the management, John Ruffolo, the brother, and the cousin did nothing but alienate those that worked for them. As far as the sister, she was the only one that could smile while working and mean it !!!!! If the people of Lake Forest bail them out more power to them, but they seriously need to get management, real management!!! Or maybe they should all go bag GROCERIES at SUNSET !!!

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