Minnesota Grocer Joe Lueken Turning His Stores Over To Employees

Retireing grocer Joe Lueken of Bemidji, Minn.
Retireing grocer Joe Lueken of Bemidji, Minn.

Joe Lueken may go down as one of the nation's best bosses -- or at least one of the most generous. That's because the Minnesota grocer isn't merely giving employees a Christmas bonus this year, he's giving them the business, sort of.

After 46 years, the 70-year-old owner of Lueken's Village Foods in Bemidji, Minn., wants to travel the world with his wife, Janice, and spend more time with his four sons, none of whom lives nearby. So on Jan. 1, Lueken will begin the gradual process of turning over operation of his two supermarkets -- the other is in Wahpeton, N.D. -- to his 400 employees through an employee stock ownership program, or ESOP.