Friday, April 17, 2009

Robert Gruenke, 1916-2009

(Obituary published Thursday, February 26, 2009)

Cafeteria owner got start in downtown

Robert Greunke, 92, a restaurant owner whose cafeterias served up homestyle fare, died of pneumonia Tuesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue.  

For decades, Mr. Greunke of South Toledo was part of Greunke's Cafeteria, the downtown business first run by aunts and a sister. He built and opened a cafeteria in 1954 on West Central Avenue in the Colony district.  

"He liked visiting with the customers and feeling that they were having a good time and enjoyed the food," daughter Laraine Hardy said.  He was the menu maker, and his aim was to offer a good variety of food  people liked, prepared as they might at home, she said.  

The family cafeteria opened about 1922 in the Nicholas Building downtown - later known as the National Bank Building and, most recently, Fifth Third Center. It was known in early years as Linck's Cafeteria - Anna Greunke Linck was one of the principals. His brother, William B. Greunke, took ownership in the late 1930s, and in 1941, it became Greunke's Cafeteria.  

Mr. Greunke during World War II worked for the Spicer division of what is now Dana Holding Corp. Afterward, he bought his brother's interest and became full owner, Mr. Greunke's wife, Gladys said. The cafeteria in the Colony was sold in 1961 to Henry G. Linck, Anna Linck's son. It later was run by Donna Heintshel, Mrs. Linck's granddaughter. It closed in 1996.

Mr. Greunke's brother, Howard, helped run the downtown cafeteria, his  wife said. That was sold in 1983 to Christine and Jim Wilson, Henry Linck's daughter and son-in-law, and became Linck's Too. It was in the National City Bank Building when it closed in 1999.  

Mr. Greunke was a former president of the Northwest Ohio Restaurant Association and was on the board of the Ohio Restaurant Association.  He started a contracting business in the 1960s and built houses in WestToledo, South Toledo, and in Oregon, taking after his father, a builder whose projects included public schools, his wife said. He retired in 1983 and, for years after, he and his wife spent winters in Clearwater, Fla., and traveled. He was a member of Bay View Yacht Club.  

He was a graduate of Scott High School and attended the University of Toledo.  

"He would have been a good businessman no matter what he chose to do," his daughter said. "If he said he would do something, he did it. He had determination, strength, and endurance."  

Surviving are his wife, Gladys, whom he married March 6, 1940; son, Martin; daughters, Susie DiSalle, Laraine Hardy, and Carol Herebic; 14 grandchildren, and 20-great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, where the body will be after 3 p.m. tomorrow.  The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or a charity of the donor's choice.

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