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Restaurant owner expresses anger and frustration over parking lot issues

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(MERCER COUNTY) - Marcus Hodge owns J&Z Grilling Restaurant on Bland Street. Hodge says he wants the city to put the brakes on the parking issues for his customers outside his restaurant.

"I kept asking and asking, and nothing is getting done. I just keep reaching out to people, and now I'm getting fed up. I have to do something. If I keep letting it go on, they are going to push me out of business. I notice my sales are going down," Restaurant Owner, Marcus Hodge said.

Hodge says his customers are receiving written warnings from city police when they pull up to pick-up carry out orders.

"To me that's a ticket. If you're writing a warning that's like a ticket. I'm not going to charge you today, but if I catch you again, I'm going to give it to you," Hodge said.

"If a customer is here, and another one pulls up for their order, what do I do," Hodge added.

The only parking spot is right in front of the restaurant. The restaurant opened in 2019 in a unique building. One side houses a police sub-station, the other side is an alley, and then there's a turning lane. The City Manager says it's just not the best location to add store-front parking.

"This is a geographic problem. In this case, the store location is not in a prime location. Most businesses as part of their business plans look and say is this amicable parking for my business. That's not the case directly in front of this business, but that does not mean there isn't parking up the street or across the street," City Manager, Dane Rideout said.

Rideout says the city needs to change and adopt what other major cities do about parking, where people walk several blocks for a legal parking space.

'You just have to walk a little bit further. Business owners, and their employees should be the ones walking, and not the customers. I think that would help decrease problems," Rideout said.

The President of the Mercer County NAACP is weighing in on this issue because the restaurant's located in what he calls " a well known black community."

"Work with him. They can do that. Not just for his business, but for other businesses. Beautify this section, as well as beautify that section," President of the NAACP, Rev. Collins said.

"I understand there's a perception that because it's a black owned business that the city is discriminating against it, but this is a geographic issue. I can't create more parking for that. I understand the frustration that the business owner has, but that's not going to fix it," Rideout said.

"You can go to Chucky Square down the street and it look like Beverly Hills, and when you come down here to Bland Street it looks like Compton. When you go outside and record my curves, they're busted," Hodge said.

Star Connor

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