By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The owners of a new sandwich and smoothie shop in South Philadelphia say vandals have attacked their six-week-old business on two separate occasions in what they suspect are hate crimes.
“Whether it’s a hate crime or vandalism or they just think it’s funny, we want it to end,” says April McNeil.
Known for their sandwiches, fruit smoothies, and pound cake shakes, McNeil and Erica Fitzgerald opened “The Sweet and Savory: A Convenience for You” at 1801 Daly Street on May 13th. The neighborhood buzz was positive.
But two weeks later, someone threw a brick through their glass front door. And last weekend, someone egged their storefront (right).
“We were very surprised that something like this would happen,” says McNeil. She says she and Fitzgerald, who are both African-American and Muslim, fear the acts could be hate-related based on racially insensitive comments from one neighbor.
Still, they point out, the neighborhood is extremely diverse, with business owners of all cultures nearby.
McNeil and Fitzgerald say they plan to stay, especially since they already have loyal customers.
“I like it — they’re nice and friendly and everything,” said Bonnie, who was returning for a third visit with her two grandsons. “They made me a smoothie that’s not even on the menu.”
McNeil and Fitzgerald say the business is their passion and they want to provide affordable conveniences to the neighborhood.
“This is our dream,” says Fitzgerald, who has 15 years in food service. “We made a lot of sacrifices to be here, and we plan to stay.”
Philadelphia police say they do not suspect a hate crime since there have been several burglaries in the area involving use of a brick.