Hi, neighbor! Hi, neighbor! What do you know, and what do you say?
A catchy tune from the 1941 film “San Antonio Rose” became the long-time theme song for Milgram’s Food Stores, Inc. With words and lyrics by Jack Owens, the opening stanza was used for the grocer’s radio and television ads for multiple years.
Founded by 20-year-old Nat Milgram in 1913, Milgram’s Food Stores had grown to multiple locations when he sold his stores to competing grocery chain Kroger’s in 1928. After working for Kroger’s for the next four years, he decided to go back into the grocery business on his own and once again grew his chain to multiple locations until his death in 1958. His son Lester (1917-1976) took over and continued to grow the chain, building new and up-to-date stores across the greater Kansas City area, southern Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, with 61 locations by 1968.
In Northeast alone, Milgram’s operated three locations: #8 at 3821 E. 15th, #10 at 6415 E. 15th, and #15 at 5304 Independence Avenue. Stores 8 and 15 also sold liquor, in a store section referred to as the Party Shop. 15th Street was renamed Truman Road in 1949, and most Northeast locations had closed by the mid-1970’s.
For more than a decade, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, local actress and singer Janie Fopeano was the voice for Milgram’s, highlighting each week’s grocery specials in local television commercials. The theme song played in the background while she announced, “Hi, this is Janie from Milgram’s, and here are this week’s specials!”
Following Lester Milgram’s death, the chain remained family-owned until 1984, when it was sold to Wetterau, Inc. Some Milgram’s locations transitioned to Save Mart stores, but by 1996 all Milgram’s stores had been closed.