Notorious market gets new management

Whitney's Market, 201 W. Lake St., which closed after a jury convicted the owner of kidnapping, could reopen soon under a new name and management.

Property Manager Jim Ahman said he had signed a lease with Minnesota Food Market.

City licensing has recommended provisional license approval -- with conditions, said Leanne Selander, city license inspector for the 5th Precinct.

Abshir Mohamoud and Jama Mohamed own the new business. The full City Council is expected to vote on the license Friday, May 16.

Police arrested Whitney's Market owner Rex Rogers for kidnapping an employee in September and leaving him handcuffed to a pole in the store's basement, a fire smoldering nearby, according to a news account in the Pioneer Press. Rogers apparently thought the man was stealing from his store.

A Hennepin County jury convicted Rogers of kidnapping, and he received an eight-year sentence March 12, the news account said.

Roger's family ran the store until his conviction, when the city revoked the license, Selander said.

The Whitney's Market front door has an official orange placard reading: "Unlicensed property." Next to it is a hand-written note on a yellow sheet of paper reading: "We will open soon." Inside, the shelves are still stocked with Spic and Span, Meow Mix, salad dressing and pasta mixes, and a string of Christmas lights is still blinking.

Before the kidnapping, the property had problems with cleanliness and the sale of drug paraphernalia, Selander said. The new owners had signed a five-point "conditions letter" to assure the property won't repeat those problems.

The owners agreed to twice-daily litter pick-up; adequate security to deter loitering and drug activity; reduced window signs to allow employees to see to the street; no sale of items that might encourage drug traffic; and no outside pay phones.