A mile or so up Martin Luther King Avenue, in the Congress Heights neighborhood, corner shop owner Ephrame Kassaye will be handing out 450 turkeys starting at 2 p.m. It’s not the first time he’s handed out gratis Thanksgiving birds, but he’s handing out a record number this year to commemorate the reopening of his Mellon Market after a top-to-bottom renovation.
For the past two weeks, Kassaye has been rebuilding the convenience store he’s owned since 2008 from the bottom up — inspired in part, he said, by Barry’s primary-election-night comments critical of local business owners who run “dirty shops” and “ought to go.”
“He was right,” Kassaye said. “He knows Ward 8 better than anybody. Better than people in Bethesda or Georgetown.”
Barry, you’ll recall, was particularly critical of Asian business owners; Kassaye, for the record, is African — Eritrean, to be precise. After coming to America in 1999, he worked in a downtown hotel, drove a cab and dabbled in real estate before opening his store in 2008 in a vacant building at MLK Avenue and Mellon Street SE — one that had previously held Barry’s campaign office in 2004.
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