Sophie Bolich

Troubled Corner Store Can Reopen, Will Get New Hearing

Chamber East Food Market can resume operations for now

By - May 5th, 2023 04:36 pm
Screenshot from video taken at Chamber East Food Market, 200 E. Chambers St.

Screenshot from video taken at Chamber East Food Market, 200 E. Chambers St.

A troubled convenience store in the Harambee neighborhood can reopen, despite a unanimous vote by the Milwaukee Common Council to close the business.

Chambers East Food Market has been closed since April 21, following the expiration of its license and the council’s April 18 decision to recommend nonrenewal based on myriad issues including loitering inside the store, illegal drug activity, firearms, public alcohol consumption and more.

In the days after the meeting, attorney Michael Maistelman, who represents store owner Davinderjit Kaur, filed a lawsuit appealing the council’s decision. As of May 5, the store has secured a temporary injunction that allows it to resume operations — at least for now.

During the council’s consideration of the license, much of its reservations stemmed from a 32-minute submitted video, which showed a group of people loitering inside the store while playing loud music, openly smoking marijuana, drinking from bottles of liquor, displaying bags of marijuana and waving guns — one of which had a silencer.

The video also showed a store employee actively participating in the antics, dancing to the music and posing for the camera along with the group. It was later revealed that said employee, Kulwinder Singh, is the owner of the building, 200 E. Chambers St., as well as Kaur’s brother-in-law.

But Maistelman argued in a subsequently filed lawsuit that his client’s due process rights were violated because the video was requested before the license hearing but not produced, only for it to be used against the business in the hearing.

During the council’s earlier meeting, he also took issue with the decision for nonrenewal — the most severe consequence possible. He instead asked for a renewal with a suspension, based on the “typical” practice of progressive discipline.

But Alderman Mark Borkowski was not swayed. “There is nothing typical about firearms in this city,” he said. “And I know that I speak for all of us when I say that enough is enough. This crap has to stop. I don’t give a darn about progressive or not…it’s nonrenewal or forget it.”

Despite the alderman’s strong stance, several neighbors testified in support of the Chamber East, saying that they rely on the store for necessities.

In the weeks since the nonrenewal, a second licensee entered the mix. On May 2, Amritpal Singh applied for a license to open Sunshine Supermarket, a convenience store, at the address.

The next steps for Chamber East will be determined at a future hearing. A date for the hearing has not yet been announced.

Until then, the store can continue to operate as usual. Its hours are listed online as 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

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Categories: Food & Drink

3 thoughts on “Troubled Corner Store Can Reopen, Will Get New Hearing”

  1. Colin says:

    While guns and antics like this are bad, locals depend on corner stores like this. Not everyone can afford a car, and/or the time to travel far enough to a grocery store when there are mixed use zoning like this with corner markets in neighborhoods.

  2. keewaysservices says:

    Must we tolerate lawlessness from some corner store fronting as food stores but in reality fronts for illegal activities What the use of having elected officials if the court can overturn decisions .Years ago Milwaukee was full of churches and taverns now that it’s full of corner stores serving criminals and other illegal activities
    Why is the city unable to stop this brazen disregard for neighborhood.!
    Drive around the city and you will find drug activities loitering trash ,lack of building maintenance. Noise
    The owners do not live in the city and some do not care about the quality of life..

  3. DAGDAG says:

    On any given day, do they even have 2 gallons of milk that have not gone past the expiration date? But my guess is that they have plenty of potato chips and cigarettes’ for sale.

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