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Oriental Bakery Chef Says the State Is Killing Her Business

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Suha Monem makes a mean falafel sandwich. As the head chef at Oriental Bakery & Grocery -- and the owners' daughter -- she has spent most of her life surrounded by pita, lamb, and tahini. After one Yelper tried her grub at the Coral Way shop a couple of years ago, he proclaimed, "They bake their own bread DAILY, so stop buying dehydrated pita bread at Publix and come get your bread here!" And last year, New Times' "Best of Miami" gave the place a nod for best falafel.


But lately, nobody has been around to enjoy the Middle Eastern tastiness. The bakery's profits sunk 50 percent in the past month, Suha says with a sigh. And weirdly, it has nothing to with the recession.

"I can't even get to the front door," she explains. "The whole street is dug up." On either side of the business, construction workers have blocked the road, taking up about 50 feet of customer parking. There's a trench on one side, and the other is barricaded by bright markers. Crews have been there on and off for the past six months, she swears. "So how is anybody supposed to come through?"

On the phone with Riptide yesterday, she spoke over the beeps and rumbles of a construction truck. "I need them out of here." She pauses and adds, "Now."

Maria Palacios is the Florida Department of Transportation project manager in charge of the roadwork. She couldn't immediately answer questions Wednesday and noted she would respond via email Thursday. (Riptide will post her comments once they arrive.)
Update: DOT response after the jump.

Rick Brian, media specialist for the DOT, says the project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2009. The purpose is to upgrade sidewalks, driveways, and curbs "for surrounding residential community, motorists, and pedestrians."

He adds, "The department works together with the community prior to the commencement of any project to ensure that property owners are aware of the upcoming project. During construction, notices are sent and distributed throughout the project corridor, to local businesses and residents announcing upcoming project-related activities."

Notices aside, chef Suha asks, "How would you feel?"

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