Work crews Thursday were busily repairing smoke damage at Salisbury’s Market in Lodi, but it is unclear just who might reopen the store.
Two of the store’s owners and one of their brothers face arson and insurance fraud charges following an investigation of an Oct. 15 fire that injured one firefighter and has left the market closed for months.
Fred Fitzgerald of RDK Construction, who was part of the crew on-site Thursday, said that based on the number of repairs needed to be done, the store may not re-open until October or November.
Freezers in the middle of store are expected to be replaced with updated models, he said, and a new paint job and some back sections of the store most damaged by the fire would also need to be reconstructed.
RDK Construction could not comment on who was paying for the repairs.
Elk Grove residents and owners Prem Basuta, 47, his wife Kulwinder “Kelly” Basuta, 48, and Lodi resident Gurmail “Gary” Singh, 55, were arrested in connection with the October fire. They were booked at the Lodi jail on May 26 and released.
They are due in Lodi court on June 12 to answer for charges of insurance fraud and arson.
Susan Batty, property manager for Woodlake Plaza where Salisbury’s Market is located, was unaware the three had been arrested when contacted Wednesday.
Batty had previously said the store would be reopened as soon as possible and that the owners had a plan in place to see that any and all smoke damage was repaired.
Businesses in the Woodlake Plaza have watched and waited for Salisbury’s Market to re-open, and business owners said the Basutas and Singh were friendly people.
“We would say hello in the morning or if we would go in there for a snack, we would talk (casually),” Woodlake Cleaners owner Dean Machado said.
Machado added, however, that he has seen a slight slump in business because the store has remained closed for so long.
He said the market used to draw customers who were looking to grab a bite to eat, and then those customers would wander down to visit other businesses.
“We are fortunate that we have been here so long and have a good customer base,” he said. “But there has been a slight (drop).”
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.