COMMUNITY LEADERS EXPRESS CONCERNS ABOUT NEW BUSINESS
7/18/2018, noon | Updated on 7/18/2018, noon
Community Leaders Express Concerns About New Business
BY KATHERINE NEWMAN
Members of several community organizations in Chatham and the surrounding areas along with the 6th Ward Alderman, Roderick Sawyer, recently held a meeting to discuss the many concerns surrounding King Food and Deli which recently opened on the corner of 87th St. and King Dr. in Chatham.
The new business is located in the old Churches Chicken location that has sat vacant and boarded up for quite some time. The owner of King Food and Deli, Ali Alraiwe, was present at the meeting and faced several scrutinizing remarks about his alleged failure to work with the community and the Alderman to create a corner market and deli that the community stakeholders at the meeting want.
“We welcome you into the community as a business owner, but we want you to come in and be a part of the community,” said Richard Wooten, president of the Greater Chatham Alliance. “When we walked in there and were met by bulletproof glass all the way around and an ATM machine, what that tells me is that you don’t trust me and you don’t feel safe in the community but you want my money.”
The bulletproof glass was a major concern to everyone that was present at the meeting, along with the types of products that are being sold and the fact that the store intends to be open 24 hours.
“As far as not coming to the community, first of all to the Alderman I apologize. That was my mistake and I have to admit it. As far as the setup, I didn’t mean to disrespect nobody. That’s not the way I meant it or the way we wanted to do it. It’s a safety precaution and that’s it, that’s all it means. Bad people can come from anywhere,” said Alraiwe.
Concern over the type of customers that will be drawn to shop at King Food and Deli was brought up several times during the meeting. Participants mentioned that selling white t-shirts, unhealthy snack foods, and cigarillos through the night will attract a younger crowd and not the middle-class residents that the community is known for.
The Chairman and President of the Chatham Business Association, Melinda Kelly, was at the meeting and offered to visit King Food and Deli immediately to help Alraiwe review his inventory and sales to make sure that the products in his store are appropriate and on track with the needs of the community.
The meeting concluded with the stakeholders providing Alraiwe with a list of changes they want him to make in order to put himself in good standing with the community. First and foremost, they want him to remove the bulletproof glass. He was also asked to improve the appearance of the store by removing several signs, to close at an appropriate time every night, and to stop selling several of his current products.
There will be another meeting on Aug 9th at the 6th Ward Alderman’s office, 700 E. 79th St., to discuss whether or not King Food and Deli has met the demands of the community stakeholders making the various requests.