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Barbara B. Saucke, Fargo, Published December 18 2012

YOUR OPINION: Family-friendly business killed by ‘committee’

Thursday is a sad day for downtown Fargo. It is the final day of business for First and Deli. In all the articles about Fargo wanting business to succeed, what have they done to help Shari Wise? Not a damn thing.

The brainless committee that makes the rules for venting equipment needs to be disbanded. When I started the business, I contacted the state Health Department and the manager for our area said as long as there was no grease products being cooked, I did not need a hood and ventilation. Fine. We remodeled the upstairs into living quarters and started on the main floor, only to be told by a city inspector, “Oh yeah, you people from little towns come into Fargo and think you can do whatever you want; that’s not how it works around here.”

So we had to rip apart the upstairs, purchase a $25,000 hood and exhaust system and have it installed. Now it isn’t good enough to move to another building because the committee wants a $50,000 hood and ventilation system. Progress? Maybe I need to look up the word.

When the building was purchased, the lease that was in place was to be honored. Did that happen? No way. The new owners have been trying to force her out for the past five years, taking her space, taking out her bathroom, in general making the working conditions unbearable.

I called the city attorney about the removal of the bathroom. He said “that’s a gray area.” “Gray area?” I said. “Isn’t the law black or white? Legal or illegal? Yes or no?” The runaround again.

We worked so hard on that building and made such a wonderful improvement to downtown, a family friendly place, homemade soups, fresh baked breads, pies, too many items to name.

Good luck to Shari. We will miss your friendly smile and the effort you put forth to run a family-friendly business.