Naperville loses another piece of its fabric
By TIM WEST email@example.com January 12, 2013 10:52PM
Updated: February 14, 2013 6:26AM
Bill Kreger is 52 years old?
That revelation resounded with me when I read in Wednesday’s Sun that Kreger’s Central Foods was closing its doors for good as of yesterday.
When my wife, Kathy, and I lived on the north side of town more than a quarter century ago, Kreger’s was the grocery store we frequented.
At the time, Bill was a young man working at the store for his dad, Jim.
The store, which was started in 1893 in downtown Naperville, has been around for 120 years and owned by five generations of the Kreger family.
It has been at 605 N. Ellsworth, north of Fifth Avenue Station since 1926.
In addition to owning Kreger’s for 50 years, Jim also played tuba in the Naperville Municipal Band for 57 years. He was a life-long Napervillian who went to SS. Peter and Paul elementary school and Naperville Community High School. How much more Naperville can you get?
Jim had a stroke in 1995, and Bill then took over the store. Jim passed away in 2008.
In the 40 or so years I’ve lived in Naperville, and long before that, Kreger’s has been renowned for its store-made bratwurst and, for those of us who used it as our regular grocery store, its meat in general.
Kreger’s brats are famous in Naperville, in the manner of the Lantern’s chili.
It was a small store, but Kathy and I could find pretty much everything we needed there and I frankly have always found “mom and pop” independent stores more appealing than large chain grocery stores anyway.
With Jim and Bill behind the meat counter, and Jim’s sister Mary Agnes (now also deceased) at the lone checkout counter, shopping at Kreger’s these many years ago was a piece of Naperville that would be impossible to duplicate in our modern day world where bigger is perceived as better, though that often in fact is not the case.
When we moved across the tracks to the near south side of Naperville, we gave up Kreger’s, albeit reluctantly, and started going to Casey’s — still an independent store not part of a chain, though it does have one other location, but with much of the family-like atmosphere of a Kreger’s.
In a Sun article from 10 years ago, a resident was quoted at the time as saying “If Kreger’s ever went out of business, it would be like a death in the family.”
Yes, and like a piece of the fabric of the town has been ripped away, but a great many long-time residents will always remember Kreger’s fondly.
And how did Bill get to be 52 anyway?
Noted mystery writers
to be at Anderson’s
One of the many things to treasure about downtown Naperville’s independent bookstore, Anderson’s, is the constant stream of authors that it gets to read from and sign copies of their books.
I have long been a detective story fan and later this month Anderson’s is featuring two of the best known writers in this genre.
On Jan. 30, Bob Crais will be at the store with his new book, “Suspect.”
Then the next day, Jan. 31, one of my favorite writers will be at Anderson’s for the first time.
Coming all the way from Scotland will be Ian Rankin, who has resurrected retired Detective Inspector John Rebus in a new crime novel, “Standing in Another Man’s Grave.” For many detective story fans, including this one, having Rebus back qualifies as a major literary event.
Both signings will begin at 7 p.m. at Anderson’s, 123 W. Jefferson Ave.