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 agreed to retain most employees of the stores, the companies said in a news release. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

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