Balaton Food Center to remain closed for now

BALATON – After the Balaton Food Center closed last summer, the Balaton Economic Development Corporation (EDC) tried to organize local interest in reopening the grocery as a co-op, but early this month had to inform the community any plans would have to be put on hold.

“It was decided that because of how things were structured, it’ll have to go through foreclosure,” said Jerry Lupkes, president of the EDC. “They’re going to auction off everything and try to recover what they can.”

According to Lupkes, there were loans outstanding, backed by the EDC and another by the Small Business Administration.

And according to Lupkes, the building itself, though in fairly good condition, is not very heat efficient, resulting in high utility bills.

Trent Hess, representing the First Independent Bank in Balaton which holds some of the outstanding debt, declined to speak, citing financial privacy issues, but he said more might be known next month about the final disposition of the property.

In the meantime, local businesses are taking up the slack.

Mike Benson, owner of Bensons By the Lake store and cafe, is converting a car wash bay into 600 square feet of extra floor space.

“We’ve taken our car wash out and moved the furnace upstairs,” Benson said. “We’re adding freezers for pizza, frozen vegetables and ice cream, and an open air cooler for vegetables, meat and sandwiches. The rest will be shelves for groceries, canned goods and dry goods.”