Manassas Journal Messenger | Restaurant owner says fence disrupting access

Construction activity in Old Town Manassas is causing enough trouble for an area pizza and sub shop that its owner is seeking help from the city.

Abdullah Toma, the owner of the Old Town Grill, is asking city zoning officials to look at a security fence pushed up to the back of his Center Street restaurant, forcing his workers to carry trash around the front, rather than going around the back.

“It looks like the Third World, my people hauling trash down the street like that,” he said. “That’s not the way things are done in Old Town.”

The RE/MAX Olympic Realty office next door is planning to build a new three-story office building on the parking lot behind its location. The fence is meant to protect construction equipment on the site.

Lorene Payne, Manassas’ zoning administrator, says property lines give RE/MAX every right to push a fence up to the edge of the building. RE/MAX might even have the right to force the restaurant to remove the air conditioning unit in the back, she said.

“It’s one of the unfortunate situations when you have that type of build out, the property lines you see in Old Town,” she said.

Patrons of the restaurant are upset to see the headaches Toma is experiencing as he runs his restaurant.

“I’m native to Manassas, and I love Old Town,” said Leslie Woodside, who works at an accounting firm in the area. “I think it’s horrible in Old Town for people not to help their neighbors.”

Ray Willis, the president of the Old Town Business Association, says Toma’s restaurant would be missed if it were forced to move.

“It’s a great restaurant,” he said. “He’s a good person, great food. It’s the best food and the cheapest.”

Toma worries that the lack of access to the Dumpster is but the beginning of inconveniences meant to get him out of his location. He says he still has nine years left on his lease. With lack of parking reducing his number of customers, he’s concentrating more on delivery to keep business up.

“I moved out of my last location because I was tired of running a delivery business,” he said. “See all these gray hairs on my head? They’re from the problems associated with delivering.”

Bill Galbraith, the owner of RE/MAX Olympic Reality, says he has no intention of running Toma out of his location. The new fence, he said, is needed because insurers for the construction operation would not want a gap in fencing, which might allow people to wander onto an unsafe construction site.

When Galbraith first moved his business onto Center Street 18 months ago, he was already planning to build an office building on the parking lot behind, tearing down the present building afterwards.

The new $4 million, 18,432-square-foot structure, scheduled for completion by the end of the year, will house not only RE/MAX but also a law firm and a bank processing center.

The building, Galbraith said, will not only inject money into Manassas’ economy, but Toma’s pockets as well. “In our present offices, we have about 10,000 people in every year to do business every year,” he said. “Think of the number of customers he’ll be able to get when the new building is complete.”

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