It’s was a busy week at Kreger’s Central Foods after 4th generation owner Bill Kreger announced that after 120 years of business, the family-owned grocery store is shutting their doors for good. With business slowing, he decided now was the time to go in a different direction.
“I have been a meat cutter for 34 years,” said Kreger. “I’ve been involved with the business for 34 years as a full-time employee. I’ve worked here as a little boy up until that time when I started working full-time. It was just time, you could feel it. I knew the time was right.”
Kreger’s has been a Naperville cornerstone since 1893 when the grocery store opened its location on Washington Street. The store not only provided the typical dry goods but also the services of a butcher. Kreger’s relocated in 1926 to 6th Avenue and Ellsworth, just north of the train station, where its butcher shop eventually became the centerpiece of the business, especially their bratwursts, which employees cook for customers every Friday.
Three family names have stood the test of time in Naperville: Kreger’s, Beidelman’s and Oswald/Anderson. All three families started businesses more than 100 years ago.
“When you’ve had generation after generation in a family business, it’s hard to keep that succession going cause the times change,” said Becky Anderson, Co-owner of Anderson’s Bookshop. “I think businesses like ours and the Beidelman’s and the Kreger’s, that is hometown Naperville.”
Kreger’s two sons have decided not to carry on the family business, with one moving to Colorado, and the other pursing a career in counseling.
“I loved every second of it, but I found out early, probably after high school that I was going to have to move on to other things, it wasn’t something that I was willing to undertake,” said Bryan Kreger.
Kreger’s became one of the final mom and pop grocery stores in the community, and thank customers like Ron Harvel who’s been shopping there for 50 years, for keeping them open for so long.
“We were here when Bill was just a youngster and we had the old man and grandpa doing things and the old ladies were making salads,” said Harvel. “It’s evolved over the years and the store certainly has changed.”
“I’d just like to thank all the loyal customers for their patronage. We couldn’t have done it without them,” said Bill.
While Bill is unsure of what the future may hold for him, he does know he wants to travel and possibly pursue a career in woodworking.
As for their famous brats, he isn’t ready to give out the recipe just yet.
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