Re:L&K Family Restaurants
From the Toledo Blade, published on 12/29/2005, from the obituary of Mr. Cleo R. Ludwig and business partner Robert Kibbey formed what became L-K Enterprises, which opened restaurants, starting in the late 1940s, and then motels, starting in the 1960s, throughout Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.
"The restaurant business was just right down his alley," his son said. "He could be with people and orchestrate things and make the whole thing tick."
Mr. Ludwig and Mr. Kibbey sold the business in 1969 to Consolidated Food Corp., which later became Sara Lee Corp., and Mr. Ludwig became a vice president of the firm and chief operating officer of restaurants and motels. He retired in 1974, and his son Robert became that division's president. Robert and another son, Paul, bought the chain back from Consolidated in 1977 and, in 1989, sold the properties.
Mr. Ludwig grew up on a farm and was a graduate of Grand Rapids High School. He sold Fords for a Bowling Green dealership and then became an insurance agent. He and the family moved to Findlay, and at 26 he became president of the United Mutual Insurance Casualty Co.
"Dad was always the consummate salesperson," his son Robert said. "He at one time had an [insurance] agent in every county in Ohio."
Before World War II, he started a home-building business company and, eventually, Mr. Kibbey joined the construction business.
Mr. Ludwig was a civilian administrator during World War II at what is now the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. After the war, he and Mr. Kibbey moved to Marion, where they built the first L-K Restaurant.
Mr. Ludwig was a former president of the Ohio State Restaurant Association.
Though retired from restaurants, he continued in business until 1990 through a venture that explored for oil and natural gas in Ohio. He also owned five car washes at one time.
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