By DAVID MARTIN
Anthony Ragusa used to own a liquor store at 27th and Troost. B&C Party Shoppe did a brisk
In May, Mayor Mark Funkhouser and members of the city council gathered in the parking lot of the old store to announce their support of the Black Heritage District, a plan to eliminate the sales tax in a 20-block area in order to attract business to the East Side.
In a feature story about the initiative, I wrote that B&C Party Shoppe had gone out of business. This was not accurate.
“They forced me out,” Ragusa says.
The city condemned Ragusa’s property after approving the Beacon Hill Redevelopment Plan in 2001. Ragusa did not want to leave. He says the B&C Party Shoppe generated $1 million a year in sales.
Ragusa also resented the accusations from former city councilwoman Mary Williams-Neal and others that his business was bad for the neighborhood. A police officer appeared before the city council and said that Ragusa had assisted with narcotics investigations. In addition to helping detectives, Ragusa says he was fair with his customers. “My milk was cheaper than Price Chopper’s.”
Ragusa says that he offered to build a Thriftway but city officials didn’t want to hear about it. He received $161,000 for his land.
For Ragusa, times have been tough since B&C Party Shoppe closed. He tried to relocate but had trouble obtaining a liquor permit. Today, to make ends meet, he works in construction.
The Beacon Hill redevelopment scheme never did reach 27th Troost. City officials chose the corner for the recent press conference because it looks abandoned. Ragusa would like you to know that it wasn’t.
Ragusa says he’d like to return to the area and open a grocery. He says he talking with a partner about acquiring property. “I’m going to give it my best shot to get back in business down there,” he says.