Last year, the council revoked the gas station’s business license, after a resident from the neighborhood accused the old owner of assaulting her. Kathleen Bullard told the council that the owner, Ty Nguyen, attacked her after he accused her of stealing a bag of ice. That was only one of several instances, according to residents who picketed the gas station last year. The business was closed briefly last September after a judge’s order upheld the council’s decision, but the store later opened again, supposedly under new ownership but without a liquor license.
This week, the new owner, Giau Le, came before the council for a new liquor license, but some residents claimed he was merely a front for Nguyen. According to several speakers Tuesday, Nguyen and his family still work at the store.
“The same folks are in there frying chicken,” Tommy Wrenn said.
Several councilors and speakers at the council meeting took issue with the Vietamese owners not hiring black employees.
“They will allow the Mexicans to come in and hire them, but they will not allow black people to come in where the Vietnamese have businesses,” one speaker, Gwen Webb, said.
The majority of the councilors voted to give the new owner two months to prove that Nguyen and his family no longer had any role in the business.
“We don’t want a third generation cousin popping up in there,” Council President Carole Smitherman said.
Pleading in broken English, Le said that he would do what the council wanted.
“I promise that in two weeks I will get rid of the Nguyen family,” he said. “Give me my license, please.”