Cherry Hill Gourmet Market celebrated its own independence from a long, hard-fought zoning battle by welcoming the community to enjoy free food and music during a Fourth of July party that took place a week before the holiday.
In May, Cherry Hill won approval from the City Council to stay in business for another 10 years. The market had been operating illegally in the landmarked Lundy’s building at 1901 Emmons Avenue, which is located in a special zoning district that limited commercial use to “waterfront and tourist-related activities.”
Cherry Hill’s violation of the zoning law was a a divisive issue in the community.
“This was about letting the community know that everybody in the neighborhood is welcome,” said Cherry Hill co-owner Samuel Nitka. “We were able to prove that if you make a mistake, you can fix it by working with the community and local representatives.”
Nitka said they wanted to throw the party on June 25, a week a head of Independence Day, so that everyone would have a chance to attend.
More than 170 people came to the event, Nitka said. The market served food prepared in their store, including stuffed artichokes, kebabs, hummus, turkish eggplant, and baba ghanoush. A band performed Russian, Turkish, and American music.
“It was like a family celebration. Everyone was celebrating together,” said Raisa Chernina, who was one of the guests. “For the community, it doesn’t matter which language you speak. We are all working under one umbrella.”
Nitka said Cherry Hill was looking forward to hosting more celebrations during the holidays and would continue to support and engage with the community.
“We were the first business in the area to open after Sandy. A lot of people appreciated that,” Nitka said. “We’re glad to be part of the community and have an opportunity to welcome anyone and everyone.”