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Grocer has high hopes for downtown store

DALLAS -- Dallas won't be a one grocery store town for much longer. The building that most recently housed Dallas Market, which closed earlier this year, will open in early 2011 with a new name and



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Shelves won't be empty for long as Paul Johal and his crew quickly work to reopen a new grocery store in Dallas, which he called "an underserved market."

DALLAS -- Dallas won't be a one grocery store town for much longer.

The building that most recently housed Dallas Market, which closed earlier this year, will open in early 2011 with a new name and look.

Owner Paul Johal of McMinnville isn't sure what the name will be yet, but he is sure of what will be offered once the store opens. He said it will be a full-service grocery store with fresh produce and meat departments and a deli serving hot food.

Johal operates three other stores in Oregon, in Sheridan, Mill City and Halsey. He said the Dallas location, at the corner of Main and Oak streets downtown, will be similar to those stores.

"We are going to be a family store," Johal said, "cleaner and nicer."

Work crews are in the midst of cleaning and remodeling the interior of the market. The store layout will essentially remain the same, except for the addition of the deli that will feature sandwiches, pizzas, doughnuts and other hot items, as well as salads.

Johal said an opening date is not set yet, as the remaining preparation work could take four to six weeks.

"We are still buying all the equipment now," Johal said last week.

Johal said he decided to open the store because he sees Dallas as an underserved market that needed a second grocery store. The only full-service grocer in Dallas is Safeway.

"There is enough population here to run both stores," he said.

Since moving to Oregon in 2007, Johal said he has used the same process in the opening of the other stores he operates: take over management of a former grocery store, remodel it and reopen.

The store's on-site manager, Randall Houser of Willamina, said there is plenty to do before the location will be ready for customers. He was on hand last week as workers were repairing the heating system and installing a new drainage system to accommodate the deli.

Houser works at Johal's Sheridan store, but will be the full-time manager in Dallas once it is open.

"We are going to be a friendly store that is going to be part of the community," Houser said.

Jack Crider, whose family owns the property and operated its own store out of the location decades ago, said the quick turnaround between tenants was a stroke of good luck. He said Johal was one of three businesses eying the location.

Crider's family was impressed with Johal's operation after checking out the Sheridan store. Customers there told him the store was much improved since Johal took over management.

Crider said his family has high expectations for their new tenant.

"It's going to be exciting to have a quality store in the downtown area," Crider said, saying customers will see a difference immediately in the look of the store. "They are also going to see shelves that are completely stocked."

Johal said he will be hiring eight or nine employees and is committed to operating a community-minded business.

"I really appreciate the opportunity to run this store," he said.



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