From Monroe News
When longtime Monroe residents think of shopping for groceries in Monroe from the late 1940's through the 1970's, they can’t help but thinking about Gruber’s Supermarket.
Gruber’s joined the ranks of other national market chains of the era including Kroger, Atlantic & Pacific (A&P), Safeway and others that were expanding store sizes to offer full-service market shopping – hence, the supermarket concept.
Gruber’s joined other Michigan-based regional market chains – including Toledo’s Seaway Food Town (which eventually purchased the seven remaining Gruber’s stores in 1970), Detroit’s Wrigley’s, Lucky Stores, Food Fair, Great Scott, Big D, Farmer Jack, and – most recently – Meijer.
The Monroe store was located at 205 North Telegraph Road in the space now occupied by Family Farm and Home.
Key to the success of Gruber’s Supermarket in the growing, competitive supermarket field in Southeast Michigan during the post-war period was Gruber’s Secretary/Treasurer, Warren W. Gruber, who served in that capacity from 1946 to 1968 – joining brother Leslie H. Gruber, who founded the grocery store chain around that time and needed Warren Gruber’s business acumen and community spirit to move forward.
Born May 19, 1921 in Monroe, Warren Gruber was the son of the late Frederick John Gruber Sr. and the late Johanna Marie (Niemann) Gruber. He married Mildred Lorraine Meyers on September 7, 1946 at Zion Lutheran Church in Monroe.
Warren Gruber was baptized and confirmed at Monroe’s Holy Ghost Lutheran Church, where he was an active lifetime member. In 1938, Warren Gruber graduated from Monroe High School, where he played varsity football and baseball. Following graduation, Warren Gruber graduated from Cleary College (now Cleary University) in Howell where he played on the college’s baseball team.
Warren Gruber proudly served in our country’s armed forces as a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army during WWII – where he spent the majority of his tour in the China-Burma-India Theater from 1943 to 1946. Warren Gruber received full military honors, including the Asia Pacific Campaign Service Ribbon with two Bronze Battle Stars, the Victory Medal and four U.S. Army Overseas Service Bars.
Warren Gruber was also involved in several additional business-related ventures outside of Gruber’s Supermarket in and around Monroe for nearly three decades. In 1963, with his friend and business partner Lee Robinson, Warren Gruber opened the first of three Park- N- Snack Restaurants. Two of the facilities were located in Monroe, and one was located in Adrian.
In 1968, Warren Gruber opened another independent supermarket in Detroit Beach, which he called Park-N-Save – possibly related to the growth of discount supermarkets that were beginning to appear across the U.S. In 1978, Warren Gruber opened yet another independent supermarket – this time located in Carleton -- called Gruber’s Valu World (again, another discount chain that sold dry goods and department store-type merchandise). A banquet facility known as Grafton Hall was added in 1988.
As Chairman of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, Warren Gruber was the key organizer of a group that canvassed door-to-door to gain support for the founding of Monroe County Community College (MCCC). He also served as Chairman of the Exchange Club of Monroe, Monroe Campfire Girls, Holy Ghost Lutheran Church, the Monroe County Community College (MCCC) Board of Trustees, and as President of the Monroe Golf and Country Club.
Warren Gruber’s community service included several roles as member on the boards of directors of La-Z-Boy, Mercy Memorial Hospital System, the Michigan Food Dealers Association, Newport State Bank, Security Bank of Monroe County, Spartan Stores Inc., and the United Way of Monroe.
Warren Gruber passed away on March 8, 2015. Leslie Gruber died February 7, 1998.