Right before Thanksgiving, a Fordham eatery was shutdown because of a gas leak problem in the multi-family building it’s located in.
Millie Peartree, who owns Millie Peartree Fish Fry & Soul Food, 2558 Grand Concourse, was forced to close after Con Edison discovered gas leaks in the building in November 2019.
“I knew it was a safety issue, but in the back of my mind, I knew if they shut the gas off that’s going to be the end of my business,” she explained.
However, Peartree may have to break her lease and find a new location. She’s ready to fight the landlord if need be.
Even though the property owner is required to pay for the repairs, it could take eight to 10 months and she simply doesn’t have the time or finances to wait that long.
“I’m confident they will fix the issue, but the timeframe is what they don’t have any control over,” she stressed.
Peartree, 38, was born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx a few blocks from her business. While she had aspirations of being an attorney, it was her late mom, Millie Bell, who taught her to cook and instilled that passion in her.
For several years Peartree worked in the corporate world and had a wholesale cupcake company on the side.
She also did private catering throughout the city and provided food for NBA players, Google and many big companies.
As she gained more recognition, she slowly began thinking about opening a restaurant. Then one day she was going to the gym and opportunity came knocking.
“An opportunity fell in my lap and I was able to seize it,” she exclaimed, when she saw the ‘For Rent’ sign.
After many years of saving for the big day, she launched the eatery in 2017 and on her first day, was mobbed with 300 customers.
However, she didn’t realize operating a business involved so many details, such as payroll, paying vendors, garbage pickup and more.
But, it was a labor of love. She was non-stop busy and some customers traveled as far as Staten Island to get food.
In fact, the restaurantwas recognized as a New York Times ‘Critics Pick’ and earned a spot on the New York Times ‘Hungry City’s’ ten best restaurants list.
“People just kept coming,” she said.
Known for her soul food and popular items such as macaroni and cheese, it became a place that everybody loved to chow down at.
“Food is a communication piece and everybody has a story,” she said.
The past month and a half has been quite difficult, she explained. She lost customers and money.
While times have been tough, she is keeping a positive attitude and hoping to open her new location in the spring.
“I lost my business, which is very sad,” Peartree said. “It’s heartbreaking.”