MEGA FOODS is open for business in Northeast Washington again -- and that makes more than a few residents of that neighborhood pretty happy, because when it comes to supermarkets, there aren't a whole lot of options. Make that read none. In fact, when Mega originally opened in 1988, it was the first independent supermarket in Northeast in more than 20 years. It also was the largest black-owned supermarket in the District -- a matter of great pride well beyond its popular shelves at 665 H St. NE. Then came the store's closing this past July, when the owners filed for bankruptcy. Now Mega Foods is back -- under new management, which a group of picketers has made the source of an ugly protest because the owners are not blacks. For the record, they are of Korean descent. Protest leader Cora Brimfield was described in a news report as a "grass-roots philanthropist," which may be difficult for some to square with the message of intolerance that she and six other protesters were sending to the neighborhood and the city. She says she blames the District government for allowing Mega to fail and for not keeping a pledge she said city officials made to make sure the store remained black-owned.
Well, whatever guarantees she claims were made by the city government -- and certainly efforts to assist minority entrepreneurship still have a place in governments -- the store was purchased fair and square by Ronald Chun and Yong Yun. Both men note that they have met with neighborhood leaders and have hired neighborhood residents, including former Mega Foods employees. They also say they plan neighborhood projects such as a food bank for the poor. "We recognize Mrs. Brimfield as a community leader," said Mr. Yun. "She does a great job feeding the homeless. We want her to give us an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the people too."
That's an offer Mrs. Brimfield might consider accepting, in the interest of all in the neighborhood who just might be a little more open-minded about the new effort to serve an all-too-often slighted community.