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Published: Thursday, 10/8/2009

Kroger CEO hears, rejects plea to spare North Toledo store


Kroger officials didn't budge from their decision to close the Manhattan Plaza grocery store Saturday, but yesterday the company's chief executive met with a delegation from North Toledo's Lagrange Village Council that traveled to Cincinnati.

More than 30 members of the Lagrange group took an early morning bus to Cincinnati with the intention of approaching Kroger Co. Chief Executive David Dillon in the Music Hall Ballroom, where he was to deliver the keynote address at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

They hoped to persuade Mr. Dillon to cancel the closing or postpone it until a replacement store could be found, saying the store was a vital neighborhood amenity and many residents lacked transportation to patronize other groceries.

At the Music Hall, three members of the contingent heard Mr.

Dillon speak and were told that Kroger officials would meet with them “if we behaved ourselves and didn't create a disturbance, which we didn't intend to do,” said Beth Lewandowski, an organizer of the trip.

“We spoke to a senior vice president for quite a while, and we had a good conversation with her,” Ms. Lewandowski said. “Then David Dillon did come down and told us the decision [to close] had been made.”

Amy McCormick, a company spokesman, said Kroger took the group's concerns very seriously.

“We listened, but this particular store is not profitable,” she explained. “It's obvious these Toledoans are passionate about their city and that particular location of ours.”

Kroger has hired a Toledo firm, TLC Transportation, to provide free transportation from the shuttered store to and from the Jackman Road Kroger three days a week starting Monday.

The shuttle will operate Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, Ms. McCormick said. It will leave Manhattan Plaza at 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11 a.m. The return times will be 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and noon.

She said the service would continue until Jan. 2, “at which time we will evaluate how well it is working.”

Contact Carl Ryan at:carlryan@theblade.comor 419-724-6050.

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