BEVERLY — Days after its soft opening, a new Beverly pizza restaurant that aims to fund for programs Englewood kids has been forced to close up shop because of nearby Metra construction.
Owner Tamar Manasseh, who recently opened Peace of Pizza, 1801 W. 95th St., said the Metra construction project that began last week is three days away from completion, but the damage has already been done. Instead of a grand opening sign, she’s contending with a “sidewalk close” sign inches from the restaurant’s front door, and is now worried a July 31 grand opening celebration won’t happen.
Manasseh, founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK), had hoped that the profits from the pizzeria would help defray the cost of the school the organization is opening in Englewood later this year but said that the construction has already eaten away at her inventory. Metra crews are working on a nearby railway crosswalk as part of the project.
“This has slowed everything down. I’ve got bread growing mold, sausages and vegetables going bad,” Manasseh told Block Club Tuesday. “I’ve lost about $10,000 in inventory and $3,000 in advertising.”
Manasseh is also worried about her ability to compensate the restaurant’s three employees, all of whom were hired from Englewood. She said she’s attempted to contact Metra executives in hopes of finding a resolution, but only one representative was willing to speak with her, she said.
“No one warned us about the construction. The two other businesses on the block are affected by this, too,” she said.
The two other businesses on the block, Blu Lady Wellness Boutique and Beverly Hills Marketplace, were also closed. An employee at Oriental Chop Suey, located directly across from Peace of Pizza, said the project has impacted their sales as well.
“People call in their orders but can’t get to us, so they give up,” said the cashier who declined to be named, a nephew of the owner.
Metra spokeswoman Meg Riele said businesses were informed two weeks before the project’s start date, and that the permit allowing for the work was approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Chicago Department of Transportation and Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th).
This is a standard crossing replacement. We do it every 10 years, if that,” said Riele, who added that she’d been fielding calls about the project since last week. “It’s necessary maintenance for the railroad. The alderman could’ve rescheduled it, if he wanted.”
O’Shea couldn’t be reached for comment, but Manasseh feels that the alderman has done everything he could do, placing the blame squarely on Metra.
“If we take money from the school to open the restaurant, it would be counterproductive. They have to fix this. This is on them. There has to be some compensation,” Manasseh said.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.