Joe Mazan & Richard Reeve
Updated: September 21, 2021 10:23 PM
Created: September 21, 2021 05:30 PM
A convenience store that was looted and heavily damaged on consecutive days during the May 2020 riots following the death of George Floyd is finally reopening.
Stop N Shop, located along East Lake Street in Minneapolis, reopened Tuesday after being closed for nearly 16 months.
"I knew I had to come back," owner Joe Zerka said. "I knew my family had to get this store back up and running again, we couldn't leave this community."
Zerka said he's grateful for the people who tried to help during the looting.
“People that were peacefully protesting were trying to stop people who were trying to cause more harm and chaos," he said. "As you can imagine, a few people against a few thousand doesn’t add up.”
Gilnda Pinos, an employee who worked at Stop N Shop for 18 years, remarked on how quickly the business was destroyed.
“I was thinking about … many years we were open, it was destroyed in one day and not even an hour, so people came into the store and destroyed everything.”
Halima Seyf, a longtime regular at the convenience store who co-owns a store on Lake Street with her mother, relates to rebuilding after the riots.
“It’s getting better now. We took a tragedy, but now we’re making the best of it, I guess," Seyf said.
Several other longtime customers were happy to return to the store as well.
"We missed this store," one customer said. "When we heard it was open, the first thing I wanted to do is come back and let him know we are still your favorite customers," another said.
After 482 long days of building back, Tuesday's grand reopening was a sort of homecoming for Zerka.
“This is my second home, this is my family’s second home and a couple employees’ second home as well," Zerka said. "It shows how much we believe in this area, how much we believe in this store, in this business and the people around us in the community. It’s my favorite place.”
Copyright 2021 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company