CINCINNATI -- Ludlow Avenue finally has its grocery store again.
Clifton Market opened to customers Sunday -- first to co-op shareholders at noon, then to everyone at 2 p.m. -- more than six years after Keller's IGA closed for good at the same spot. The owners of Keller's IGA, which operated at the site at 319 Ludlow Ave. for more than 70 years, failed to pay sales taxes they owed and couldn't reach a payment deal with the state of Ohio.
James Madaris was the first inside Clifton Market Sunday. He said the store is just what the neighborhood needed.
“I’ve been in this community for 40 years, and we missed this store so much,” Madaris said. “We’re glad to have it back.”
The new "uptrend" grocery had been a neighborhood labor of love for years: A 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.
Perhaps no one was more excited for the grand opening than Vice President Adam Hyland.
“It is owned by the community, and run by the community,” Hyland said. “I’m feeling elated. It is has been a mountain to climb.”
Clifton Market 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 University of Cincinnati students to the south side of the main campus.
“This was the economic engine of the business district, and we look forward now to returning that anchor store back to our business district here in Clifton,” Hyland said.
The store planned to remain open until 4 p.m. Sunday. Regular hours, 7 a.m. to midnight, begin Monday, and Clifton Market will be open every day except Christmas.
This story contains prior reporting by WCPO contributor Thomas Consolo.