The NETWORK for The Core DJ Syndicated Radio Show
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Residents of one Birmingham neighborhood launched a protest and boycott of a West End Chinese restaurant Monday after authorities say the owner fired on a customer in a dispute over a roach in an egg roll.
Holding signs that read, "If the food doesn't kill, the owner might" and "Eat here at your own risk," the boycotters stood on all corners and nearby sidewalks surrounding Good Friend Chinese and Seafood on Dennison Avenue Southwest.
Birmingham city Councilwoman Sheila Tyson and former Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot were at Monday's boycott. Both Tyson and Smoot last week announced plans to run for the commission, both challenging incumbent Commissioner Sandra Little Brown.
The restaurant owner, Chun Hin Ching, 52, is charged with attempted murder after a shooting at the restaurant Feb. 6. He was released from the Jefferson County Jail over the weekend after posting $100,000 bond.
Ching was at the restaurant Monday, but refused to comment on the shooting or the boycott. The restaurant remains open for business.
Police said the shooting, in which no one was injured, happened just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The customer ordered food, and then found a roach in her egg roll. The owner and customer argued after the egg roll the customer had put on the counter fell onto the floor.
"She took two bites and saw it,'' Tyson said. The woman, she said was with two friends, all of whom wanted their money back. "Of course he had something say to her. One of the egg rolls rolled on the floor and he just went crazy."
The customer got her money back, police and Tyson said. She turned to walk away, while her two friends waited for their money return. As she walked off, police and Tyson said, Ching fired at her. "She took off, and dove in the back seat of the car,'' Tyson said.
Tyson said there is a history of problems at the restaurant. "There have been incidents of him raising a bat to people, showing some guy a butcher knife, because he gets complaints all of the time,'' she said.
"We have tried to work with this man. We have talked with him, asked him to participate in the neighborhood meetings, asked him to clean up his property,'' Tyson said. "The result is nothing."
Smoot said she used to eat at the restaurant often, before ownership changed hands. She called for a review of Jefferson County Health Department inspections to determine why the restaurant remains open under its current conditions. "An inspection is what I'm calling for, what the neighborhood is calling for,'' Smoot said. "Another thing is if people don't like the service in any business, stop patronizing it."
Tyson said she called the health department Monday morning, and they promised to return to the restaurant this week. She said the combination of the restaurant's condition and the violence that has happened there spurred the neighborhood to action.
Commissioner Brown Monday afternoon issued a statement saying previous incidents of alleged violence should have been reported to the police and city officials. "This could have possibly avoided this dangerous and emotional situation that we now have concerning Good Friend Chinese and Seafood establishment,'' Brown said.
Complaints of cleanliness, or lack therof, also should have been reported and the health department should have been more diligent. An inspection on Aug. 20, 2013 listed the restaurants health rating at 91. A July 1, 2013 listed the rating at 81, according to Brown.
Tyson said many people in that neighborhood don't get the newspaper, or watch television or internet news. The public display, she said, was the only way to get word to them. "We're hoping we will stop people from eating here, period,'' she said. "Just don't eat here and it will take care of itself.