'Eat to Live Food Co-op' pushes re-opening date back again to Summer 2014

Opening date pushed back for third time to Summer 2014.

During its short two months in business, Timothy King, who lives just around the corner, loved coming to the Eat to Live Food Co-Op.

"Coming to a store like this is convenient because we don't get half the stuff you can get here at the neighborhood stores you know what I mean like the food, the bread, and stuff like that," says King.

For the first time since its sudden closure, Co-Op Board Member Howie Hawkins is talking about what went wrong. Hawkins says the October opening was rushed due to state grant deadlines and that made it so the store couldn't meet financial expectations.

"It was in the hundreds. We should be making a few thousand a day. It was a combination of the rush opening, the marketing needed to be stronger, and we weren't able to fully stock the store. So there were a lot of things working against us," says Hawkins.

Hawkins is the first person associated with the Eat to Live Food Co-Op to speak on camera. He says it was because of a fear about negative coverage by the media.

"It took some time for the board to agree that we had to be responsive and transparent and that goes back to how this community is portrayed in the media. People are reluctant because they're afraid of bad things and we finally realized that things are even worse if we don't talk," says Hawkins.

The Eat to Live Food Co-Op Board President, Shirley Rowser, who didn't show up for a scheduled interview with CNYCentral has stepped down from her position according to Hawkins.

Originally the Eat to Live Food Co-Op had a sign, which is actually still posted to their window, which says they'd be closed for the holidays and open in the new year. Then in January in a press release they said they would open in Spring. Now they hope to open in Summer.

In January, the Co-Op briefly posted temporary store hours which Hawkins now says, was to acquire a permit for Electronic Benefit Transfer, the system used by the government to run food stamp and welfare benefits.

"You can't get the permit until you've been open but a huge amount of our customer base in this area depends on those and uses that money to get their food so that's why we opened temporarily to get certified for that," says Hawkins.

"It's been a pattern but I think summer is realistic. We know a lot more now than when that statement went out," says Hawkins.

The Co-Op received more than a million dollars in state and private grants. The only money that hasn't been spent is the nearly $400,000 in state grants that is performance based. The board has asked its South Side community members to contribute personal loans if they can afford it.

"Even though we've got this building as collateral, that will enhance our credibility with the lenders that were in this ourselves," says Hawkins.

The Eat to Live Food Co-Op Board will be meeting Monday April 28 to discuss hiring a new general manager and bringing on more board members.