Demands for Food Fare staffer to be fired & charged after woman punched in face

By Cole Fortner

Posted April 30, 2024 6:36 pm. 

An eyewitness wants to see a Food Fare supervisor fired and charged after a woman was punched in the face in front of her child. Store management says it’s taking action to address the incident which took place on Sunday, April 28 just before 5 p.m. at its 905 Portage Avenue at Arlington location.

Captured on video, a woman appears to try to hit the staff member as he pulls on her purse before the employee punches her directly in the face. He then approaches another woman, and appears to strike her as well before other staff intervene.

“That’s when he turned around and punched her, just punched her right in the mouth so hard that I heard it and I was just like ‘what the hell?’” said Angela Antoine.

A bloodied lip was one of the injuries sustained by a woman who was punched in the face by a Portage Avenue at Arlington Street Food Fare employee in Winnipeg on Sunday.

Advocate Barbara Guimond questioned the store’s owner about the employee’s behaviour and says she agrees with Antoine the incident should merit charges. 

“If they’re going to be store owners; they should be courteous and friendly and they shouldn’t be attacking our people,” said Guimond.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs announced Tuesday they have terminated their business relationship with Food Fare in response to the incident. Grand Chief Cathy Merrick says the incident is “not acceptable,” and that the security footage showed “a distressing sequence of events” that led to a “violent physical assault of a First Nations woman.”

Winnipeg Police confirmed the assault at the store, but no charges have been laid and an investigation is ongoing. 

The store’s co-owner, Tarik Zeid, says the employee has been suspended and next steps are still being determined. That employee, it’s alleged, is a member of the Zeid family.

“That shouldn’t have happened — it was a situation that got out of hand,” said Zeid.

He says they are looking at more training to prevent future incidents and that he wants to meet with the woman and her child to work on a solution.

Food Fare’s “proactive” approach to responding to shoplifting first raised eyebrows in February 2014. Michael Ellison said he was shopping at their Cavalier Drive location when a staff member accused him of shoplifting and assaulted him several times – causing internal organ damage and bruised ribs. A 20-year-old suspect was charged with assault and uttering threats in connection with the incident.

Food Fare was in the spotlight again in late 2019 when co-owner Munther Zeid said his staff “have baseball bats” and would approach shoplifters in pairs and “show signs of force”. A co-owner was quoted as saying several bats would be placed strategically throughout a store when they’re notified of shoplifting in progress – which the owner, his son, his nephew, and other staff would grab before meeting the accused thief at the front door. “If they (alleged shoplifters) refuse (to return items), then the choice becomes (to) break an arm or a leg.”

Zeid explained at the time he wasn’t prepared to lose product the way Liquor Marts had that year, with over 2,600 thefts in liquor stores in 2018. Zeid said over 25 shoplifters had been caught per week at one location, and that he and his employees were committed to confronting those caught in the act.

Then in 2022, witnesses accused four Food Fare employees of kicking and punching a young male while he was lying on the sidewalk. One eyewitness claimed the staff were kicking the man in the head and punched him multiple times. Co-owner Munther Zeid said while he didn’t witness the incident himself, he was told four Food Fare staff members at the 905 Portage Ave. location chased two suspected of shoplifting.

This past march, police arrested and charged a man with 18 counts of theft and seven counts of robbery after officers said he targeted grocery stores across Winnipeg over several months, stealing $10,000 worth of meat products.

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