Ashvin Patel bought the grocery store at 209 S. Main St. in Woodward on his 29th birthday, Sept. 28, 1986, and he and his wife have now run A.J.’s Grocery for 37 years. Yesterday he turned 66 and has decided to retire.
“We want to spend more time with the grandkids and to travel,” he said Friday, as customers picked over the last of his stock, priced to sell at a 50% discount.
Patel is also a five-term Woodward City Council member, and a reception in his honor will be held Saturday, Sept. 30 from 2-4 p.m. at the Woodward City Hall at 105 E. Second St., just around the corner from A.J.’s Grocery.
The party will continue Saturday from 4-6 p.m. behind the grocery store, where Mr. and Mrs. Patel will be serving walking tacos and other central Iowa delicacies.
Patel said the first few years in business were difficult, with the farm crisis of the 1980s in full swing and the people of Woodward a little wary of a brown-skinned south Asian man. They hung on and eventually grew a very loyal customer base. He said they will not be leaving Woodward but will enjoy their retirement years right here.