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Riot torn business tries to re-open

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 07:03:03-04

At the corner of North Avenue and Smallwood, the stains of unrest still mark the sides of Fireside North Liquors.

The store is one of more than 200 businesses burned and looted in 2015.

The owner, while pleading with the crowd, was punched, then kicked just outside his store; the assault not just knocked him out of business, but his will to do business.

"It was really, really damaged. Nothing was left but the outside wall," said new owner Niraj Shah.

It was a shell when Shah's sister-in-law bought the business last August from previous owner John Chae.

See also: Man pleads guilty to arson, other charges stemming from Baltimore riots

Shah says he didn't just see an opportunity here, but a need.

He spent upwards of $500,000 gutting and renovating the inside of the building, literally peeling off the protective covers to the new glass after a successful inspection.

The only evidence there was a fire is some minor smoke damage in a storage area and a charred book left behind.

"Everything is new pieces, electrical wires, plumbing. It is at least minimum a year [of work],” Shah said.

Because the new owner is not just re-opening a liquor store, he spent money on a massive refrigerator for fresh food and drink and a kitchen to eventually start a food service.

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It is needed in this neighborhood, and was sorely missed by many.

"That is one way you can get your customers back is putting food in there. It is not about it being a bar. If you can get the community together to eat and just have fun then you gonna go," said resident Tay Outen

Shah is hoping to get going in two weeks, slowly, but surely he's getting there.

"Probably that is the right word, getting there. We are getting there. It is a year anniversary for him, for what he did and a year anniversary for us...so suffering and gaining and paining...it is right. Right word...getting there now," Shah said.

Fireside North Liquors hopes to open by Aug. 1

If the court agrees to Trevon Green’s plea deal, he will spend close to 6 years in federal prison.

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