‘It’s the time to do collective action’: Kenmore’s Souaiaia does his part amid outbreak

Butcher Shop Cafe owner keeps a safe distance while forming close ties with customers.

These are new times, said Kenmore Butcher Shop Cafe owner Mohamed Souaiaia, who is doing his part to keep people at a safe distance and help people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

He recently began inviting residents to his establishment at 15022 Juanita Drive Northeast to pick up food and safely pay at that time if they choose by placing cash in a bucket. If not, they can pay later or not at all if they can’t afford it.

“The regular policy right now the government has asked us to follow is distance. The only way I can take payment is through being close, so I cannot take your payments. I’m looking into different ways where people can do it online,” said Souaiaia, noting on the shop’s Facebook page that payments would go to employees’ salaries and for basic cost of food and essentials.

“When you can do something, do it, don’t wonder about losing money. It doesn’t work,” he added. “We could not live in times like this if everybody pursues their own interests. It’s the time to do collective action, and each one of us can do what they can to make this risk less for all of us.”

While staying the suggested six feet apart, customers can file in one at a time, fill their containers and head home for a meal. On March 18, Souaiaia said he was stocking up on sanitizer bottles to place on the counter.

“If we do this for one month or one week, we have saved each other and we have the next day to be nice again,” he said.

Souaiaia said the money will return and that he’s basically repaying the debt that he owes some kind Kenmore residents who helped him rebuild the shop after it fell victim to a fire about two years ago. He was the grateful recipient of free or discounted inside rebuilding, electrical and sewer work to get his shop back up and running.

“People just have been so good. I’m not doing anything special, really. I’m doing my little thing, everybody does their thing, we might get over this,” said Souaiaia, who was born a refugee in Tunisia after his parents experienced war in their native Algeria. “I’ve seen poverty, I’ve seen wealth. I got sponsored by an American family to come to America. I worked like a dog to support myself.”

“I am so touched by him and his generosity,” said Brooke Idol of Kenmore.

On recent days, the shop’s menu featured smoked Angus New York steaks, chicken in cacciatore sauce, pasta, veal, cut grass-fed New York steaks and smoked drumsticks. For updates, visit tinyurl.com/ul5eawe.