While others are still looking forward to the arrival of spring, local business partners Jeff and Tony Burger will celebrate the season of new beginnings a few days early, with their own fresh start.
On Saturday, March 16, the brothers will close the doors to their long-standing family-owned grocery store, Burgerâ€™s Market, for the final time â€“ not out of necessity, but rather because the timing simply felt right to start a new chapter and pursue the joys of retirement.
The business, which began as Burgerâ€™s Superette in February of 1958 on the site of the former Ivyâ€™s Market, sits at the corner of Ray Avenue and Grinstead Drive, across the street from Louisville Collegiate School. The grocery, a well-loved mainstay of the Cherokee Triangle community, was opened by Jeff and Tonyâ€™s father, John Burger Jr. John used the family business as an opportunity to teach his children the value of hard work, eventually turning it over to the stewardship of his two sons when he retired in 1978.
â€œMy dad always told us, in this business, if you want to make a success out of it, you have to work,â€ explained Tony. â€œYou have to be here! So for 40 years, either my brother or myself has opened the store and closed the store, except maybe five times when weâ€™ve been gone together. Weâ€™ve been here every day.â€
Selling everything from fresh produce and choice cuts of meat to ready-made sandwiches and prepared meals, Burgerâ€™s Market fills a niche in the tight-knit neighborhood that will be difficult to replace. In addition to serving as an unofficial after-school stop for many Collegiate students and their families, the grocery offers a delivery service to meet the needs of customers in the area who are unable to make a trip to the store. The Burgers have built a wealth of lasting friendships, both with longtime employees and customers whoâ€™ve shopped with them for years.
â€œThe neighborhood has been great to us,â€ Tony enthused. â€œCherokee Triangle is as solid as you can get as far as a neighborhood, itâ€™s a great place to be in, and weâ€™ve been very fortunate in that regard. … And weâ€™ve got some great employees â€“ some of my employees are getting a little older as well and wanted to retire, so it made the decision a little easier.â€
Once the business has closed, the owners look forward to spending time with their families, traveling and simply having free time to enjoy their hobbies and interests. â€œMy wife said maybe we can go to the Derby this year!â€ noted Tony, explaining that the local event always meant a busy day at the market in years past. They also hope to continue offering grocery delivery to former customers after theyâ€™ve retired, to help fill the void left behind and as a way to thank those customers for all their years of patronage.
But, while the brothersâ€™ decision to close the grocery and enjoy their hard-earned retirement is not likely to be reversed, there is a possibility that a new owner could purchase the property, Tony Burger pointed out. â€œWe really never thought about it, but since weâ€™ve (announced weâ€™re closing), weâ€™ve had some people show an interest in buying the business. But if they want to buy the business … theyâ€™re going to have to buy the building, because I donâ€™t want to be a landlord!â€ he laughed. â€œItâ€™s time for us to move on. Weâ€™ve owned the building for 45 years so itâ€™s time for somebody else to take over.â€
He added, â€œIâ€™d like to thank all the people that have worked here â€“ itâ€™s been great â€“ and Iâ€™d just really like to thank all my customers, mainly, because without them we wouldnâ€™t have been here this long. This past year we had the best Thanksgiving and the best Christmas weâ€™ve ever had â€“ I guess weâ€™re going out on a high note.â€
Burgerâ€™s Market, located at 1105 Ray Ave., is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The business will remain open until the end of the day on Saturday, March 16.