Public Comment

New: Bill Bahou and the Roxie Deli Need Your Help

By Donna Mickelson
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 09:52:00 PM

As far as I can tell Bill Bahou, popular longtime owner of the neighborhood Roxie Deli in South Berkeley, is in the cross-hairs of both the Walgreens Corporation and—thanks to Walgreens' highly paid lawyers—Berkeley City bureaucracy. 

As part of a "battle of the beer and wine licenses" (ironically temporarily 'on hold' as this is written) Walgreens' lawyers found a way to harass and financially damage the "mayor of Ashby and Shattuck": They went to the City with a complaint that he had installed tables for in-store service and that he opens too early in the morning (5:30 a.m.), without benefit of a special permit. And the City took the bait. 

The tab for a "special permit"? $5,000! Is he "guilty"? Technically, perhaps. Would this have come up if Walgreens hadn't targeted Bahou? My guess is no. Is this a major hit for this small business? Definitely! $5,000 would be chump change for Walgreens, but between the fine and the loss of a small but significant chunk of his business, this could have a big impact on Bill. 

As of now, the beer and wine license issue is moot, since Walgreens has withdrawn their application for the time being. But Bill still faces bureaucratic hurdles and a $5000 fee for conditions that have existed for years at the Roxie with never a murmur of complaint or any problems for the neighborhood. (When told he needed a permit, he had gone to the City this year and paid $180 over the counter, but his permit was later withdrawn after someone higher up decided he needed the "special" $5000 type.) 

HOW TO HELP: One way is to go by the Roxie before January 9th and sign the petition to the City of Berkeley. It will likely be before the Council on January 31st, and the 9th is the deadline for submissions. 

Another is to call or email Council members, asking that the fee be waived on grounds of of both hardship and problems with the process. We think that if there's a strong show of support from local residents, the City Council will grant the waiver. 

PLEASE NOTE that this is the Roxie at Ashby and Shattuck, a separate business from the one on Dwight Way west of Telegraph..