Milwaukee Sav-On Foods closes after 57 years

If you grew up in Milwaukee, chances are your groceries came from Sav-On Foods at some point. It started as a wholesaler 57 years ago and then opened as a grocery store. The store closes in August as the owner retires.

"We’re going to miss everyone," said Gary Catalano.

Catalano is ready to say goodbye.

"(Customers) want to know if we’re doing a new location," said Catalano. "I’m 80 years old. I’m not going to start up something else."

Gary Catalano

Since 1966, through four generations, Sav-On Foods at 20th and Clybourn has been in Catalano's blood.

"This is a picture of my father when he first opened up here," said Catalano.

"I’m probably going to tear up, but he’s worked so hard for us," said Catalano's daughter. "There’s five kids.  That’s all he wanted to do in life was to provide for his kids."

Milwaukee Sav-On Foods

After decades of competing against chains like Walmart and Costco, Catalano is throwing in the towel.

"It seems like the volume of customers that we used to have – you can go to Amazon and get an order delivered right to your house," said Catalano.

Before closing, everything must go, with all the food marked down. They're even selling the shelves.

"It’s hard to compete," said Catalano.

Milwaukee Sav-On Foods

At its peak, Sav-On provided wholesale groceries to 1,800 locally-owned stores.

"I’m happy to see him retire and have some free time, but for him, it’s all he’s ever known," said Catalano's daughter.

Catalano is leaving with his heart full of memories.

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"You get along with people, and you enjoy the customers you have," said Catalano. "It’s been a wonderful trip."

Milwaukee Sav-On Foods

Catalano said a mechanical contractor bought the building. He’s turning over the keys Aug. 14. He’ll spend more time with his wife and kids and eight grandchildren.