Rochester Halal Market owner says he's lost $200,000 in business - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rochester Halal Market owner says he's lost $200,000 in business due to construction next-door

Rochester Halal Market on S Broadway Rochester Halal Market on S Broadway
KTTC's Shannon Rousseau speaking with Aweys Osman (R) and his translator Hussein Haajia (L). KTTC's Shannon Rousseau speaking with Aweys Osman (R) and his translator Hussein Haajia (L).

Driving through downtown Rochester means navigating construction, but for some businesses it means a loss in revenue.

The Rochester Halal Market is on Broadway Avenue South and 4th St. SW, making it a prime location for traffic to go by and see one of the few halal markets in the city. But construction on a $38 million dollar project on the lot next to them is causing them to lose most of their business.

"We are not millionaires. We're just small business," said Hussein Haajia, who served as a translator for the market's owner, Aweys Osman.

Construction crews from Titan Development and The Opus Group have been working since March on the "Urban on 1st," a 154-apartment complex that will have retail on the ground floor, along with bike storage, and a dog wash. 

On Monday, August 6, crews blocked off the entrance to the market's parking lot. That means instead of using the entrance on Broadway, customers must enter from 4th Street, go around the Bleu Duck Kitchen, and over a make-shift road that looks like it leads to a work zone to gain access to the parking lot. 

"First of all, we are complaining about when they were starting the construction, nobody tell us. They just covered the whole place with fence, and we're wondering what's going on. Nobody's telling us," said Haajia. 

They say since January they've lost $200,000 in business, and that they've gone from 50 customers a day to two or three. Haajia said this caused a big issue during Ramadan. "Other people's were coming here from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia. [They] come to Mayo Clinic, so they want our food: halal. They come to us. There was no access."

They say if current business trends continue, they're going to shut down. Osman is unable to pay his employees, rent, or bills because of the loss in revenue. "This guy is suffering a lot. He can't pay his rent, electric. He can't pay nothing. Broken, broken job,"  added Haajia. They told KTTC their electricity was being shut off on Friday, August 10.

Osman and Haajia says this is discrimination and wished representatives from Opus would come to them to address the issues they're facing. "They're not interested. They don't care about us."

KTTC did reach out to Opus for comment. They did not want to be interviewed on-camera, but told us they informed Mr. Osman at least three weeks ago that his parking lot would have to be shut down. To help out confused customers, they built signs that led drivers to the parking lot. There are multiple ones located in front of the market, at the Bleu Duck Kitchen, and across the street from the Bleu Duck. Additionally, they also constructed a make-shift driveway made out of rocks next to the market for customers to use. 

Construction on Urban on 1st is expected to continue until the end of the year. The apartment-complex should be open in the summer of 2019.

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