The former JB’s Foods in the West Central neighborhood has a new owner.
Joga Singh Johal, who has been in the grocery business in Spokane for almost four years, bought the store at 2501 W. Boone in late December.
“It’s a world of difference,” said Diana Nelson who launched a neighborhood crusade against JB’s in October.
She claimed the former owners, Jim and Mary Jo Barach, were dumping spoiled food on shoppers in the low-income community, mistreating employees and harassing children buying treats at the store.
The store, now called Family Superette, is freshly painted, has new sinks, a meat cooler, and a meat and fish shop permit from the Spokane County Regional Health District.
Johal said he has cut prices about 20 percent.
“When I first came in here, I realized I couldn’t afford to shop at my own store,” he said.
Specials are posted on the store windows, an ad runs in the newspaper and a flier inside the store offers other services to neighbors and regular customers.
“This is a family and neighborhood store,” said Johal. “I like kids. I want to keep the neighborhood happy.”
Last fall, health inspectors were tipped off by Nelson and took meat samples from the JB’s Foods stores on Boone and a second store at 5503 N. Alberta. Testing revealed some of the meat was spoiled.
Meat was prepared at the main store on Alberta, then taken to the West Central store.
The Barachs still own the Alberta store. Jo Barach said complaints were spread by former employees. She also blamed employees for the spoiled meat.
“I can only set the policies for these people. I can’t hold a clerk’s hand,” she said last fall. “No one is more careful about food than we are.”
Johal plans to prepare cuts of meat in the store.
The Superette was busy this week. Johal was behind the counter, laughing and joking with customers, placing orders with salesmen.
“A lot of people who haven’t been in there for years are going in again,” said neighbor Lisa Samuels. “It is handy, but a lot of people were tired of being treated poorly.”
Employees say the new attitude at Family Superette was immediately noticeable.
“It’s like a real store now,” said Lo Upchurch, a clerk at the store for two years. “It’s wonderful coming to work now.”