Jewel Foods Stores Inc. has agreed to buy 19 Strack & Van Til and Town & Country grocery stores in suburban Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

The companies on Monday announced Jewel’s stalking-horse bid for the stores operated by Joliet-based Central Grocers Inc., which recently filed for bankruptcy court protections.

Jewel has offered $100 million for the stores, according a court filing.

Jewel has agreed to retain most employees of the stores, the companies said in a news release.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to grow the Jewel-Osco brand in the Midwest and welcome the Strack & Van Til team at those 19 stores to our Jewel-Osco family,” Doug Cygan, Jewel-Osco division president said in a news release.

“Our two companies share a rich history of serving customers in the Midwest as well as core beliefs in working hard to serve customers and deliver value every day on the finest quality fresh foods and local products.”

Jewel will buy the stores unless another buyer offers a higher bid. A bankruptcy court auction could be held in June.

Central Grocers is still trying to find a buyer for its 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Joliet. Central Grocers’ three Ultra Foods stores are not included in the deal with Jewel.