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New store opening at former Circle K
City Food and Liquor owner AJ Khinda and Coca-Cola rep Hollie Lujan stock the cooler at the new Lathrop convenience store opening up in the old Circle K building. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP – AJ Khinda isn’t afraid to invest in his community.

Even if that means completely renovating a building he purchased more than a decade ago that the previous tenant, he says, trashed out of spite.

The Texas Buffalo Wings owner took a shot to the gut after Circle K decided to close down their corporate store at the corner of Cambridge Drive and Louise Avenue after nearly four decades of serving the community.

A rental agreement signed by the previous owner, Khinda said, finally expired this year and when he approached the company about renegotiating the lease they opted to shutter the building instead of paying market value.

And they took everything in the process.

The gas pumps, the gas tanks, the refrigeration units and even the counters were stripped from the building that Khinda – who previously owned a convenience store in Tracy – had hoped to reopen under his own banner.

“I even offered to pay for the stuff inside the building but they took it,” Khinda said. “There wasn’t anything left. I had to put everything in to get it ready.

“I’m looking forward to working with customers once again – that’s what I liked about doing this in Tracy.”

For the last two months Khinda has overseen a complete overhaul of the complex – the installation of brand new refrigeration units, the reconfiguration of the counters and the cash out station, the placement of the shelves – and is hoping to open City Food and Liquor to the public by the middle of next week.

Nearly every day people have popped in to check and see when the business will finally throw open their doors – a good sign for Khinda who wants to provide a whole new level of customer service to the diehards that frequented the establishment before it closed.

“We’re going to make it a very clean store where people can come and get the service they expect,” he said. “It has taken a lot of organization to get this up and running and a lot of work cleaning up what was done when they left, but we’re going to take care of our customers.

“I think that getting to know the customers and getting those repeat customers is what has kept Texas Buffalo Wings in business, and we want to create that same thing here. I like talking to the people – that’s the best part.”

City Food and Liquor is located at 16470 Cambridge Drive at the corner of Cambridge and Louise Avenue. The business, once it opens next week, will be open Sunday through Thursday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. For more information call (209) 647-4273.