What's the future for the Ultra Foods brand?

Shoppers browse the aisles at Ultra Foods store on Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland after it was remodeled in 2015. It's now slated to close.

Tony V. Martin, The Times

After 36 years, Ultra Foods faces an uncertain future.

The Ultra stores in Highland and Kankakee, Illinois, will soon close, leaving the Ultra on Broadway in Merrillville as the last remaining location of a discount chain that was once spread widely across Northwest Indiana and the greater Chicago suburbs.

Jeff Strack said the new ownership group will evaluate whether to keep the lone store left standing as an Ultra or convert it to a Strack & Van Til after they close on the sale, which is expected to take place on Aug. 2.

Ultra Foods made a huge splash when it first opened on Indianapolis Boulevard in Highland in 1981, introducing the Region to a low-cost, no-frills warehouse shopping concept that was later popularized by Costco and Sam's Club.

The Highland-based Strack & Van Til supermarket chain was looking for a way to hold off national supermarket chains that founders Ernie Strack and Nick Van Til feared would make incursions on their business. The store, which originally stocked a lot of generic and off-brand items like Wildwood Cola, proved to be a big hit.