Food store gets new name, owner
A longtime Goessel grocery store will soon get a new name, but the new owner will be a familiar face.
James Janzen, a 20-year employee of Keith’s Foods, will buy and take over the market in January when current owner Keith Banman retires.
Banman has coached Janzen in running the operation and recruited him as his successor. Neither wished to disclose the terms of the sale.
Banman, 71, is ready to stop working full-time and enjoy his wood shop.
“I mean, I’m one step from going to the nursing home,” said Banman, who lives in rural Goessel.
Both men were raised in Goessel and left home to seek their fortunes, only to return and build their lives in Kansas.
Banman left Goessel for Washington State, where he worked for his uncle delivering eggs and driving a Pepsi delivery truck. He moved back to his hometown to be near family and has then operated the grocery store he managed for more than 40 years.
Janzen moved away to earn a communications degree at Kansas State University in Manhattan, but has become “a lifer” with the Goessel store.
Banman and Janzen are united in their desire to keep a grocery open in Goessel.
“We felt we needed a grocery store in this small little town,” Janzen said. “They are hard to find anymore.”
Business at Keith’s Foods has been brisk during the pandemic as more people prepare meals at home, but the outbreak has all but ended the store’s catering sideline.
“Normally December would be one of our busiest months,” said Janzen. “We would have 12 or 15 different events this month.”
There have been no church meals, Christmas dinners, or funerals, Banman said.
The thought of taking on a new business during COVID-19 uncertainty is often daunting, Janzen said.
“I know it’s going to be a challenge taking over this business with the pandemic going on,” he said. “It’s going to be tough, but I think it’s going to be a good challenge for me.”
Banman said Janzen’s workdays could get much longer.
“It’s like going from a 40-hour work week to an 80-hour work week,” he said. “He just doesn’t realize it yet.”
The store’s six employees will be a great source of support, Janzen said.
“We’ve got good people working here and that’s going to help,” he said. “We have a great staff.”
Last modified Dec. 16, 2020