Geneva Ave. businesses re-open after sewer problem prompted five-week shut-down

A block of shops on Geneva Avenue shut down by the city due to a sewage leak is back up and running, but business owners there say they're struggling to recoup losses incurred during the more than four weeks they were closed.

"It's a big hit,” said Gabriel Rosa, who runs the grocer Rosa Market II. “We’re behind."

Rosa said he continued paying rent despite being closed for more than a month. But even worse, he said the shop lost at least $1,000 in sales every day they were down, from February 6 to March 12. Even now that they’re back in business, he reports sales are down as much as $500 a day, as much of the clientelle has gone elsewhere for their shopping.

Now he says his father, who owns the business, is considering selling it after opening nearly three decades ago.

The sewage leak affected the businesses at 481 to 487 Geneva Ave, which include a restaurant, a barbershop, a hair salon, and a hair braiding shop. The city gave the order to shut down the food businesses after inspectors found an “imminent health hazard violation” in the raw sewage leak.

Badra Syed, the owner of the building and owner of at least seven other properties in the city, had said originally he planned to fix the problem in a week. Syed did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Anh Nguyen, executive director of Bowdoin-Geneva Main Streets, said the restaurant Cape Verdean Taste lost more than $50,000 in sales during the closure.

"They don’t have anything else to rely on to make money... and these are immigrants so they don't have the same safety net that English speakers do,” Nguyen said. “That's just the trend that's happening to a lot of the [Bowdoin-Geneva] businesses in general."



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