What Clifton Market's GM brings to the table

Posted at 2:43 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 18:29:13-05

There’s a new face to Clifton Market, the co-op grocery store planned for Ludlow Avenue, and the community has a chance to meet him Thursday night. 

A release this week from the market’s leaders announced Keith Brock as the store’s general manager. Brock comes to Clifton Market with nearly 15 years’ experience in the grocery business and another decade in food service. He most recently worked as store director for Fresh Thyme stores in Centerville, Ohio, and Harper’s Station near Loveland.

Fresh Thyme recently opened its third Tri-State store in Newport.

Brock will be at a reception from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at Ludlow Wines, 343 Ludlow Ave., Clifton. The event is free.

The appointment comes as work on the building at 319 Ludlow Ave. is set to begin. Originally slated to start Feb. 1, construction is now set to begin by the end of the month. Marilyn Hyland, the market’s director of marketing, said the later start date will allow all the permits to be secured and would avoid having work interrupted. Turnbull-Wahlert Construction is the contractor.

The site for more than 70 years was Keller’s IGA. That store was closed late in 2010 by the state of Ohio after the owners had failed to pay sales taxes they owed or to reach a payment deal with the state. The grassroots effort to open a co-op at the site was launched early in 2014 after plans by the owner of three other independent groceries to remodel and reopen the store stalled as costs rose. Full funding for the $5-million project — including $3 million in loans — was secured in December.

As now envisaged, Clifton Market is to be a full-service, “uptrend” grocery offering organic and local fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, wine and beer, and dry goods. The store is expected to open this summer.

Though hiring won’t begin officially for a month or two, Clifton Market is already accepting resumes by email at Brock said in the release he expected to hire more than 60 employees.

The store is expected to be a catalyst to reinvigorate the Ludlow Avenue business district, which has been hard hit by the loss of Keller’s foot traffic and large developments in nearby University Heights that have drawn UC students to the south side of the main campus.

Also at Thursday night’s reception will be Keith Wicks, a Minneapolis-based grocery analyst whose projections have been key to the market’s efforts. Wicks has been enthusiastic about the store’s prospects, citing more than 50,000 people working within a 1.5-mile radius of the store.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” he previously told, “and I’ve opened thousands of sites. Once in a while you find a gem in the rough. That’s what this is.”