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Vern McDonald Presents His Business Plan

At the EPIC Stakeholders meeting on Thursday night, Vern McDonald the new owner of 1520 Arrott Street, set the record straight on his plan for the property.  His initial intention was to make it a Gentleman’s club but when he saw the bureaucratic hurdles necessary to achieve that end, he decided to go in the direction of a sit down restaurant instead with a liquor license.  He is working on the three apartments at this stage of the renovation but has not begun work on the business area yet.  He has taken steps to secure the property to make the corner less attractive to the drug dealers who may want to conduct business there.  You can see the video below of his presentation and the answers to some questions from some of those attending the meeting.


Kim Washington did an admirable job of keeping what could have been a very contentious meeting moving in a positive direction.  There was universal agreement that nobody in the community wants a return of that property to its former status as a nuisance bar.  At the same time, having it sit vacant and idle is also undesirable.

Vern has made an investment in this property and therefore has to make it work financially.  However it won’t work without community support.  The bone of contention is that everybody can support a restaurant but there is a great deal of concern about serving liquor.  It was pointed out that restaurants that we travel to outside of the neighborhood (Red Lobster, Olive Garden)  all serve alcohol.

Suggestion was made to open the restaurant at first without the liquor license and then get community support and add that later.  You can see comments and suggestions from Jason Dawkins, Phil Robinson, Barry Howell, Marie Delany, Lynda DeSouza and other in the video below.  In any case, if Vern opens his place and the community fails to support it, it will all be to no avail.

Vern agreed to work with the Frankford CDC and to come back to the EPIC Stakeholders future meetings to keep the community informed of his plans and progress.



1 thought on “Vern McDonald Presents His Business Plan

  1. I am reposting this from an earlier thread as it now applies to this updated story.

    Listened to Vern speak about his restaurant on Thursday; and also listened to a handfull of people who seem to be against everything and anything. I’m wondering if these same people have any plans to invest their money in the neighborhood, open businesses, make any attempt to improve the quality of life; other than just screaming about how bad everyone else is. I heard one good idea last night and that was to open the restaurant first and seek to obtain a liquor license second. Being in business, and having a network of friends in business including restaurants, I know it is vital to have wine & spirits to make a decent profit. Take a $13 bottle of wine and sell it for $8 a glass is just good business. As for people offering up ideas for what business Vern should be in was laughable; a soup kitchen, a senior center, job training center. Please tell me how Vern is to make money on any of these, do any of these generate tax revenue, create profit and return his investment? After listening to Vern and his cousin speak last night; and then listening to the handful of residents with a total of zero ideas on how to revitalize this area, I believe Vern should be left to explore his business venture. What would be really helpful is if other buildings on this block followed suit and opened similar legitimate businesses and make this an area where people are willing to travel for a night out. The traffic is there from the M-F Line and the negative element will go away on it’s own if the traffic was there and stayed there for the right reasons, instead of hurrying home. I’m guessing what the people of Frankford want is a few more hand painted $10 Car Wash signs going up on their streets; by the way, these illegal businesses create no tax revenue for the city. Good luck Vern and hopefully the people with the proper vision on how to improve a neighborhood will support you; and those that think peace marches and picket signs will move the dealers along will one day see why their battle has been going on for 20 and 30 years.

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