A Frankford Avenue convenience store owner who wants to renovate his property and also sell beer got an earful from a few opponents during a meeting of the Frankford Civic Association.
Harry Patel, who co-owns the Quickie Mart Express at 4346 Frankford Ave., told the civic group’s members that he has lost about 30 percent of his business to his many small neighborhood competitors and feels the best way to recoup that revenue would be to remodel his establishment and begin selling beer.
Attorney Joseph Beller said takeout and on-site beer sales would enhance and save Patel’s business. He added that Patel and his employees would scrupulously check IDs to make sure minors aren’t able to buy their brews at his establishment and that anyone who wants to drink on the property would have to order food as well.
Beller said Patel has been recognized by the city for strictly enforcing the ban on cigarette sales to minors.
Those assurances aside, said local businessman Chris Gulledge, alcohol can lead to crime problems and the neighborhood already has plenty of places to buy alcohol as well as plenty of crime.
Gulledge told Patel that he didn’t know him and had nothing against him personally but repeatedly said Frankford shouldn’t be home to more outlets for alcohol.
Pete Specos, the association’s zoning officer, said Patel is only now just making plans and must go through the state’s process of applying for a license to sell beer. He also must get Zoning Board of Adjustment OKs, Beller said.
“He will make the appropriate applications before the Liquor Control Board and be vetted for character and lack of criminality,” Beller said. “He will more than qualify and be worthy of your trust.”
Jason Dawkins, an aide to City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, suggested that beer sales would end with people hanging out and drinking nearby.
“It’s not a concern that Harry has the wrong intentions,” Dawkins said, “but alcohol plays a role in criminal activity.”
Beller said the fact that food would be served and that there would be seating encourages a different kind of customer.
“I think this is a well-thought-out plan,” he said.
“From a business standpoint, it probably is,” Gulledge responded. “From a neighborhood standpoint, it isn’t.”
“It is just not the proper thing for this neighborhood,” said Kimberly Washington, coordinator of Northeast EPIC Stakeholders and president of the Frankford Parks Group. She added she was surprised that more people did not express their opposition at the Nov. 3 meeting.
Specos said Patel was invited to the civic group’s session in Aria Health’s Frankford campus to “make his pitch to get the community’s viewpoint” before he invests in further planning and going through the LCB’s and zoning processes.
Patel said his business has taken such a hit in the last 10 to 11 months that he was in danger of going under if he couldn’t find more revenue.
“Is the beer really going to save the business?” resident Michael O’Brien asked.
Tracy O’Drain, managing director of the Frankford Community Development Corporation, praised Patel for his long record of community involvement and generosity, but added she had advised him his plans would meet with strong resistance.
“I told him this is what is going to happen,” she said. “I encourage him to talk to other people.”
In another zoning matter, members gave their OK to a briefly discussed plan to house a day-care center in the Pathway Evangelistic Church at 4837 Frankford Ave.
The civic association’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, in the second-floor meeting room of Aria Health’s Frankford campus, 4900 Frankford Ave. ••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org