PITTSBURG -- The Raley's supermarket on Buchanan Road will be converted to a Food Source, a company spokesman said.
Plans still call for the Raley's to close in mid-October, followed by four to six weeks of work to transform the property into a Food Source, a warehouse-type grocery store that is owned by the same West Sacramento company that owns Raley's.
The Raley's on Buchanan Road opened in 1979 and employs about 55 courtesy clerks, checkers and butchers. It is the only major full-service supermarket chain operating in Pittsburg.
Company spokesman John Segale said on Thursday employees will be given the opportunity to either transfer to another Raley's or Bel-Air stores. Employees will also have the opportunity to apply for a job at the Food Source store that will open at the Buchanan Road location.
The news caught city officials by surprise.
Mayor Ben Johnson learned that Raley's was going to be transformed into a Food Source from a news report instead of hearing about the decision first from Raley's executives, even though there were previous communications.
"My whole problem with this thing, is they did it really hush-hush," he said.
A Food Source store will provide a different shopping experience for people who are used to Raley's, Johnson said.
"It's going to be low-end warehouse store," he said. "It's a downgrade ... People in an upgraded (area) are going to have to go to a downgraded store. It's non-service. You pack your own groceries."
Pittsburg resident Patrice Belleci-Shipe isn't familiar with Food Source stores, but definitely has an opinion of Raley's.
"It's a neighborhood all-service store and it's a very unfortunate thing to lose. We are going to miss the employees, no question, and the quality of the fruits and vegetables and meats and lots of specialty items that they get," she said. "It's going to be hard to match."
Raley's is a privately held company that operates 128 Raley's, Bel-Air, Nob Hill Foods and Food Source stores in Northern California and Nevada and employs about 13,000 people.
Raley's first announced it was closing its Buchanan Road store in late August, saying the location didn't do enough business to cover operating costs.
Raley's, Safeway and Save Mart, which owns Lucky's, are negotiating new labor contracts in Northern California with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5. Mike Henneberry, Local 5 communications director, had suggested at the time that Raley's move to close the Buchanan Road store could "very well be a shot across the bow -- store closings until we get a deal."
Henneberry said in an email on Thursday, "We are in negotiations with the company for a mutually agreeable path to unionization for the new Food Source."
Reach Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.