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Disrespectful Barriers?


Effort takes aim at plexiglass in neighborhood stop-n-go’s

(Photo Left) Councilwoman Cindy Bass (8th District) tours news cameras through stop-n-go establishments in her district. Photo courtesy of Layla A. Jones

Just after rush hour, at the corner of 27th Street and Allegheny Avenue, a customer steps through the doors of Allegheny Food Market for a pack of cigarettes. The store also provides toiletries, pet food, milk, soda, candy and use of an ATM.

A number of items are stacked above the front counter on shelves made of thick plexiglass. An approximate three-foot wide opening in the see-though display allows the merchant and customers to exchange and interact.

That’s not exactly the case two doors down at Sunrise Deli, not yet open for the day and whose front window at this hour is covered by an aluminum grate. During working hours, visitors will find plexiglass stretched across the length of the counter and can see a refrigerated selection of beers, cheap wines, snacks, cigarettes and various brands of flavored cigars.

A bill sponsored by Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cindy Bass has taken aim at places like Sunrise Deli, publicly dubbed “stop-n-go’s,” because customers can stop in for take-out items, most often alcohol.

While Sunrise’s mustard-yellow signage promises steaks, hoagies, cold beer, seafood and chicken wings, visitors will find no kitchen visibly operating. The deli’s seats consist of about a half-dozen plastic booths, all pushed against each other along a single wall.

Such establishments, “destroy the dignity of in-community dining experiences,” Bass said in a statement.

“The very nature of these businesses encourages addiction and fuels nuisance behavior including loitering, the sale of loose cigarettes, public urination and possibly illegal drug sales.” She complained, “I have more stop-n-go nuisance businesses in the 8th District, which includes Germantown, Chestnut Hill, Nicetown, Tioga, Mt. Airy, parts of Logan and West Oak Lane, than public schools.”

The legislation calls for “no barrier [existing] between food service employees and customers, a practice commonly found in stop-n-go nuisance establishments.” She believes it disrespects customers.

While the stop-n-go legislation has not found much opposition, this particular provision has.

Asked if she thinks plexiglass is necessary for a business in this neighborhood, the merchant at Allegheny Food Market stretches her eyes wide and exhales, “Yeah!” In reference to her neighbor, Sunrise Deli, she adds, “Especially him.”

To that, Bass states, “I take the safety of all Philadelphia residents very, very seriously. Already, my office has proposed several safety alternatives to in-store barriers including installed lighting, cameras, security guards and security wands, and police check-ins.”

She concludes, “Several businesses operate safely in the same neighborhoods as stop-n-go’s and do not have physical barriers between employees and customers including: neighborhood bars, liquor stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, family-owned breakfast restaurants, barbershops, hair salons and beauty supply stores. If these businesses can operate safely in our neighborhoods with dignity and respect, all establishments can.”

 

Disrespectful Barriers?
Sheila Simmons - Contributor

Sheila Simmons brings many years of writing and communications experience to her work for Liberty City Press. She began her professional writing career at the Philadelphia Daily News, where she covered Business, City Hall and Education.

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