When longtime Monroe residents think of shopping in Monroe from the late 1940s to the 1970s, they can’t help but think of the Gruber supermarket.
Gruber’s joined the ranks of other national market chains of the day, including Kroger, Atlantic & Pacific (A&P), Safeway and others that were expanding store sizes to offer full-service market shopping – d ‘where the concept of supermarket.
Gruber’s joined other Michigan-based regional market chains including Seaway Food Town of Toledo (which eventually bought out the remaining seven Gruber’s stores in 1970), Wrigley’s of Detroit, Lucky Stores, Food Fair, Great Scott, Big D , Farmer Jack and – more recently – Meijer.
The Monroe store was located at 205 North Telegraph Road in the space now occupied by Family Farm and Home.
Key to Gruber’s Supermarket’s success in the growing and competitive supermarket business in Southeast Michigan during the post-war period was Gruber’s Secretary / Treasurer Warren W. Gruber, who served in that post from 1946. in 1968 – joining his brother Leslie H. Gruber, who founded the grocery chain around this 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 the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Monroe, where he was an active life member. In 1938, Warren Gruber graduated from Monroe High School, where he played college football and baseball. After graduation, Warren Gruber graduated from Cleary College (now Cleary University) in Howell where he played on the college baseball team.
Warren Gruber proudly served in our country’s armed forces as a Warrant Officer in the United States Army during World War II – 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 has also been involved with several other business related ventures outside of the Gruber supermarket in Monroe and surrounding areas 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 in Adrian.
In 1968, Warren Gruber opened another independent supermarket in Detroit Beach, which he called Park-N-Save – possibly linked to the growth of discount supermarkets that were starting to appear across the United States. In 1978, Warren Gruber opened 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 hall known as Grafton Hall was added in 1988.
As chairman of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, Warren Gruber was the lead organizer of a group that went door-to-door for support for the founding of Monroe County Community College (MCCC). He has also served as Chairman of the Exchange Club of Monroe, the Monroe Campfire Girls, Holy Ghost Lutheran Church, the Board of Trustees of Monroe County Community College (MCCC), and Chairman of the Monroe Golf and Country Club.
Warren Gruber’s community service included several roles as a board member of La-Z-Boy, Mercy Memorial Hospital System, Michigan Food Dealers Association, Newport State Bank, Security Bank of Monroe County, Spartan Stores Inc. and the United States. Monroe Path.
Warren Gruber passed away on March 8, 2015. Leslie Gruber passed away on February 7, 1998.
Tom Adamich is President of the Visiting Librarian Service, a company he has run since 1993. He is also a Project Archivist for the Greening Nursery Company and the Family Archives.