Lake Forest supermarket closes because of bank loan problem

Full story: Chicago Tribune

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.

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what a waste of time

United States

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#119
Mar 6, 2008
 
Econ 101 wrote:
If this store is not making enough money to cover most of its costs, then it has to close.
I have read that about 50% of the costs Americans spend on eating and drinking is now being spent in restaurants, and that means people are spending less on food at supermarkets.
A lot of money spent on food to prepare at home is being spent on frozen items that can be fixed quickly and easily. Many of these frozen meals and foods are just a lot cheaper at the large discount retailers.
The times are changing.
And amazingly enough as little as 5 years ago everyone was talking about the death of the restaurants due to americans opting instead for Home Meal Replacement. Restaurants couldn't move fast enough to try to copy Boston Markets concept. McDonalds raced to buy Boston Market. They were all wrong. Grocery stores nationally may be seeing a shift away from the items which are used in cooking and baking as people buy ready made frozen foods, Don's customers don't fit into the mold of the average consumer. Most of Don's customers are stay at home wives, mom's or a families housekeeper. They have time to cook whole meals. Don's is well known in Lake Forest for the quality of their meat. People who are buying fresh meat are obviously preparing a meal and not popping in frozen dinners.
greedy bastards

United States

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#120
Mar 6, 2008
 
How about the fact that the 3 companies that control Lake Forest real estate, yes you know who you are!, continue to drive rents thru the roof to the point where the only tenants who can afford to pay are the banks and real estate offices. If all of you who break bread with these demons at Onwentsia, yes, you know who you are!, would just ask your pals why they are compelled to turn Lake Forest into a scene out of "A wonderful Life" except that in this case, George stays dead, maybe our town would have a chance to preserve the "local character" we all claim to be so fond of.

Until more people get MAD and ask these questions of eachother, the trend will continue. I drive around town, with many empty retail locations and I wonder where the town I moved to 15 years ago went.
Don's is just another sign that the canary in the coal mine has died.
A Family Who Cares

Winnetka, IL

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#121
Mar 6, 2008
 
Again, we wish Don Ruffalo and his wife the best in a difficult time as well as the families affected, i.e. ALL the employees of Don's Finest!!! It is still discouraging that the most vehement of comments come from people that do not live here nor have any sort of education and/or "spell check"... Whazzup w/ that? LOL....
other issues

Arlington Heights, IL

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#122
Mar 6, 2008
 
I don't think they said that was the problem. I'm guessing labor costs and paying back their loan for remodeling was the monkey on their back.
Wire Hair Fox Terrier

Gainesville, TX

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#123
Mar 6, 2008
 
If I may say just one last thing here. It isn't anyone's fault if they only moved to Lake Forest a few years ago or a decade ago. But, if you're sad and disgusted after your short time here, try to imagine those who are 4th generation? Good for Lake Bluff staying true to itself. It's the better place of the two in which to live now. Lake Forest, pardon my expression has turned into a government of whores. Once there were outstanding citizens & leaders AND THE MOST "FASHIONABLE" OF ONWENTSIA SPOKE THEIR BELEIFS AND WERE RESPECTED FOR THEM and change was for the good. No one has the guts anymore and it's sad. All those who were true, old money, have long since left. They saw what was coming.A few still stop back for a couple summer months or have their homes on the market and could care less. Spineless transients occupy what once was filled with character & honor. Go ahead and laugh. You have no idea how it feels to stand alone for what is right or to cry as you honor the flag passing Market Square on Veteran's Day morning with your great grandfather at 95 marching in salute. Too bad you weren't raised here to begin with. You would have character. Go ahead and laugh. And Joe, I wish I knew your grandfather who used to smoke the fish. Do you remember Scott Street, Russel Hill, the Spring Fair and the Winter Club?
Wire Hair Fox Terrier

Gainesville, TX

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#124
Mar 6, 2008
 
Joe, I would have liked to have known your grandfather who smoked his fish. Do you recall Scott Street, Russell Hill, the Spring Fare & the Winter Club? The transients have no idea what made Lake Forest great for 4th generation Lake Foresters. Not their fault, just ignorance. Shedding a tear as your 95 year old Grandfather held a salute marching past Market Square on a rainy Vetran's Day morning. The Looser's terrorising strollers with ice cream in the 70's. The beach at night before you needed a pass or better yet Walden Beach bonfires. Catching fireflies in a jar in Miss Smith's Field or the smell in the West Park park house while you put the guards back on your hockey skates. Mrs. Best's Record Shop, Chambers, the milk machine at Swarthouts gas station. How about when Southgate was the police and fire station or when the Deerpath Inn burned. Or when Gorton Community Center was Gorton School. And Janowitz Grocery Store. God bless them all.
A person who cares

Mundelein, IL

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#125
Mar 7, 2008
 
A Family Who Cares wrote:
Again, we wish Don Ruffalo and his wife the best in a difficult time as well as the families affected, i.e. ALL the employees of Don's Finest!!! It is still discouraging that the most vehement of comments come from people that do not live here nor have any sort of education and/or "spell check"... Whazzup w/ that? LOL....
HA HA. I agree
Lake Forest Resident

Chicago, IL

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#126
Mar 7, 2008
 
I am not at all surprised by this saddening turn of circumstances. The business wasn't managed crisply since the retirement of Don himself. Its service orientation had diminished markedly. Compared to what, you might ask? The singular answer is Sunset on Waukegan Road in Lake Forest. Sunset managers are constantly on their feet, functioning as highly effective expediters. At Don's, by contrast, John and Ron are sitting down too much of the time; only Don Baker, a cousin, worked in the tradition that Don himself had established. Don himself, as I recall, rarely sat down. Nor did his daughter, Dorie, who was hands on and customer friendly but left the business some years ago.

Should Don's achieve a comeback, it needs to have a management plan for operating its finances and for operating the store on a day-to-day basis. Sentimentality just won't carry Don's into the future, if it has one.
David

Naperville, IL

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#127
Mar 7, 2008
 
Lake Forest Resident wrote:
I am not at all surprised by this saddening turn of circumstances. The business wasn't managed crisply since the retirement of Don himself. Its service orientation had diminished markedly. Compared to what, you might ask? The singular answer is Sunset on Waukegan Road in Lake Forest. Sunset managers are constantly on their feet, functioning as highly effective expediters. At Don's, by contrast, John and Ron are sitting down too much of the time; only Don Baker, a cousin, worked in the tradition that Don himself had established. Don himself, as I recall, rarely sat down. Nor did his daughter, Dorie, who was hands on and customer friendly but left the business some years ago.
Should Don's achieve a comeback, it needs to have a management plan for operating its finances and for operating the store on a day-to-day basis. Sentimentality just won't carry Don's into the future, if it has one.
That was the most honest thing that has been said here in a week !!!

I do disagree to a point about Don Baker though, he was LAZY too unless of course you wanted to taste wine with him and then he was happy to oblidge.
Poor Dorie, if only the customers knew why she really left, she got the bad end of the deal. It is all about treating everyone right, even the employees.....something, John, Ron and Don Baker didn't know how to do !!!!!!
Stuart

Madison, WI

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#128
Mar 7, 2008
 
"I don't care who the manager is. I loved the salad bar--NO STORE holds a candle to it"
Don's salad bar was small compared to the assortment at Sunset Foods in West Lake Forest!
goawaysister

Mundelein, IL

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#129
Mar 8, 2008
 
Dons Shopper wrote:
Please join me in flagging all off-topic posts. Dating, self esteem, who cares?
I'm with you on that
hahaha

Northbrook, IL

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#130
Mar 10, 2008
 
"poor dorie"...haha...if YOU only knew...haha
LFHS Grad

Chicago, IL

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#131
Mar 10, 2008
 
Let's come back to reality here. I grew up in Lake Forest, worked at Onwentsia, and I even do business in the 60045 zip code from time to time. If there's anything I've learned from my experiences there its that its residents tend to get swept up in the illusion that is LF, and lose touch with reality.

See the Walgreen's Pig debate, or all of the tears shed at the Harrison Conference Center Hearings. Or my personal favorite, the 1 year $1 million (failed) battle to keep McDonalds from coming to west LF. There are a lot of very rich, powerful people who don't have a lot to do and treat the City as their own personal kingdom. So let me put things in perspective....

Don's was in business for 39 years, which is a great run. No one conspired against the Rufallos to run them out of business. They mismanaged the store (it seems), took out too much debt, and mistreated employees (allegedly). And while LF is losing "a great salad bar" and "the freshest produce", you still have the Village Market, Wine and Cheese, Foodstuffs, Sunset Foods, and yes the Jewel. Many people in this country have to drive 30 minutes to get day old food at a Wal-Mart if they're lucky.

Is it a shame? Sure. I don't like seeing mom and pops close either. But its happened, and unless you want to put your own money up, there are about a billion greater travesties in the world that you should be investing your time in.
LFHS Grad

Chicago, IL

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#132
Mar 10, 2008
 
That being said, if you don't want a Citibank to move in you need to start raising hell with the mayor, alderman, and econ development reps. Because I guarantee you that the property owner (Meers?) is chomping at the bit to put them in as a tenant ASAP.
curious

Hampshire, IL

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#133
Mar 12, 2008
 
hahaha wrote:
"poor dorie"...haha...if YOU only knew...haha
would love to know
hahaha

Northbrook, IL

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#134
Mar 12, 2008
 
let's leave well enough alone and concentrate on the subject at hand...these siblings have been thru enough
Dons Shopper

Nutley, NJ

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#135
Mar 12, 2008
 
All of Lake Forest is partially to blame. Everyone that shops outside of Lake Forest helps to drive the nails into the coffin of Lake Forest businesses. This is not just a local issue though. Every community has a buy local campaign. If everyone actually spent locally businesses would have a fighting chance. That said though, mis-management can never be condoned. Don's over-borrowed and should pay the price. We all want to see the next incarnation of Don's but none of us wants to provide the owners of a failed business with a gift for their poor judgement.
Abelle

New York, NY

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#136
Mar 12, 2008
 
Brian wrote:
<quoted text>
And living in Lake Bluff, you would know a lot about that, wouldn't you?
Hey California
Anybody who is a LF resident recognizes Lake Bluff as an extension of our town. No worries about your attempt at being smart towards Lake Bluffers. I wouldn't expect someone from an entirely different part of the country to understand.

While I find your mocking slightly entertaining, I think you're missing the point as to why people are sad about the closing of Don's. It is one more space in Lake Forest that is bound to be filled with yet another bank or chain store. How is it not sad that an independent, family business closed?
Obviously people will not starve to death (but your joke was cute). Some people enjoy a little quality in their downtown, a little character you might say. Over the last few years Lake Forest has been slowly losing that traditional village vibe and Don's is one of many classics that have been lost.

Ps. Why are you on this discussion board? Pissed off you never got the chance. to shop at Don's before it bit the dust? Your multiple posts and apparent hyper-interest in this topic sure do suggest so!
Abelle

New York, NY

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#137
Mar 12, 2008
 
And since your so into location, no need to bash my new york residency. I sadly had to move from LF 3 months ago. And I even had to find a new place to grocery shop!!!!! The horror.
Tony

Palm Desert, CA

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#139
Mar 12, 2008
 
Abelle wrote:
<quoted text>
Hey California
Anybody who is a LF resident recognizes Lake Bluff as an extension of our town. No worries about your attempt at being smart towards Lake Bluffers. I wouldn't expect someone from an entirely different part of the country to understand.
While I find your mocking slightly entertaining, I think you're missing the point as to why people are sad about the closing of Don's. It is one more space in Lake Forest that is bound to be filled with yet another bank or chain store. How is it not sad that an independent, family business closed?
Obviously people will not starve to death (but your joke was cute). Some people enjoy a little quality in their downtown, a little character you might say. Over the last few years Lake Forest has been slowly losing that traditional village vibe and Don's is one of many classics that have been lost.
Ps. Why are you on this discussion board? Pissed off you never got the chance. to shop at Don's before it bit the dust? Your multiple posts and apparent hyper-interest in this topic sure do suggest so!
Please re-read the affected posts. He was making a less than thoughtful comment about California. The reference to Lake Bluff was made to question his bona fides to comment on California, not a dig into its demographics.

I understand some angst over the loss of the store. It felt it was going over the top and needed a break. These people were behaving like a murder had taken place. A man went out of business, thatís all. The world changes. Like all of us.

I donít understand the P.S. in the 1st (most recent post.) Is there a geographical requirement to having an opinion? Please advise. By the way, I havenít always lived in California and I get to Chicago on a monthly basis.

No one needs comment on New York City. It speaks for itself, in all ways.

In any event, it was all supposed to be in a humorous vein. However, itís apparent that there is a large contingent of self-absorbed bores in Lake Forest (and neighboring towns) who need to gossip about lives more interesting than their own.

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