Restaurants struggle amid Dinkydome construction

Two restaurant owners say they’re being forced out of the building.
October 01, 2008

While the Dinkydome undergoes construction, the restaurants that call it home face destruction.
Construction and remodeling have begun on the Dinkydome, and it’s fueled a volley of complaints from restaurant owners, who said the noise and dust are killing their business.
Rahman Arshad , owner of Little Taj Mahal, said the problem has become so bad that he’s losing up to 70 percent of his customers.
Only a handful of people occupied the Dinkydome’s food court Tuesday during lunchtime.
Arshad said he believes Kelly Doran , the new owner of the Dinkydome, is trying to push him out of the building before Sydney Hall — a 13-story apartment complex that will be connected to the Dinkydome — is finished.
“They’re trying to make our lives miserable, and they’re trying to make us get out of here,” Arshad said.
He has owned Little Taj Mahal for three years and said he doesn’t plan on going down without a fight. Arshad has had conversations with Doran about moving his restaurant during the construction, and then moving it back when the development is finished, but so far no decisions have been made.
Arshad also hired an attorney and said at this point, he might file a lawsuit against Doran.
“I have an investment I’ve made here, and I’m not going to leave just like that,” Arshad said.
Mike Kou, the owner of the Hong Kong Express and Bobaboca Tea and Cafe , said he is also feeling the squeeze from construction.
Weeks ago, when the campus was under a heat wave, the air conditioning was turned off in the Dinkydome for maintenance purposes. Restaurant owners were forced to leave their doors and windows open to maintain a comfortable temperature, which allowed hordes of flies into the building, Kuo said.
Kou’s lease only goes until the end of the year, and he said he doesn’t know whether he will re-sign or not. So far, Kou said he hasn’t had any productive conversations with Doran.
“They’re not talking; they just come and do whatever they want,” he said. “But we have plans too.”
Despite the complaints, building crews are doing everything they can to make accommodations for restaurant owners, Doran said.
He also said the lack of communication isn’t his company’s fault because several business owners have been unclear about their intentions.
Workers, who are remodeling the north wall and beginning reconstruction on the roof, come in at 6 a.m. so they can finish most of their work before the lunch rush, Doran said.
A food service inspector from the city of Minneapolis surveyed the construction area Tuesday and didn’t find any code violations, spokesman Matt Laible said .
Doran said any time major reconstruction is being done to a building, there is bound to be some type of disruption.
“Unfortunately, some of these people are going to be displaced,” Doran said. “That’s just the way the world works sometimes.”
Advertising sophomore Alanna Olson said the construction doesn’t bother her. Olson said, however, that she has visited the Dinkydome about once a week since the beginning of the school year and has noticed a sharp decline in business.
“When I came here at the beginning of the year it was full,” she said. “You couldn’t even find a seat.”

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