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Soon to be open – again – after Horn Lake flap

Tedarral Muhammad was gratified after learning that the Horn Lake’s Board of Aldermen had voted to allow him to reopen his barbershop and auto detailing business that had been shut down after its first 30 days of operation. by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Horn Lake businessman Tedarral Muhammad was gratified and “cautiously optimistic” Tuesday night after learning that the city’s Board of Aldermen had voted 6 to 1 to allow him to reopen his Cut and Shine Barbershop and Auto Detailing business that had been shut down soon after its first 30 days of operation.  

 Tedarral Muhammad

The issue blew up last month when Muhammad sent a news release to local media claiming that the booming Memphis suburb’s governing body had a “Klu Klux Klan” mentality and a “good ole’ boy network” behind the scenes calling shots against him.

Muhammad is the managing partner of Your Enterprise, the investors group that owns the Cut and Shine Auto Detailing Center at 2400 Goodman Road. After passing the city’s requirements – so the investors thought – the car wash opened and quickly brought in traffic. A barbershop is to be the main business at the location. Muhammad is the lease owner, subletting the rear space for the car wash.

Horn Lake Mayor Nat Baker has said the city made a mistake in issuing Cut and Shine a permit to operate. In an earlier appearance before the board of alderman, Baker objected to Muhammad’s letter and said the city would work with Muhammad to try to solve the problems.

Calling Muhammad a “friend,” Baker, who was not available to speak with the New Tri-State Defender, has said he was offended by Muhummad’s news release.

Muhammad believes the trouble started when Fire Inspector Mark Brown, who had come to check code compliance, learned that a meeting of Muslims was scheduled to take place in the building. “Everything was running smoothly up until that point,” Muhammad said.

Baker has said that Brown, after visiting the location, told him that a church meeting was planned for the building, which would have required a sprinkler system.

Baker told the board of alderman that Muhammad balked at the number of permits that would be needed for the business’s expansion. Muhammad, however, notes several incidents that add up to cronyism from his view.  

“Every time I clear one hurdle, they invent something else,” said Muhammad, alleging that a now retired city official told him that his religion was the source of the problem.

‘Not an Andy Griffith moment’

A self-described “reformed street player,” Muhammad owns Everlasting Spring Water, which operates in several states. He said the teachings of Islam saved him while he was in prison and continued to gird him after his release, including with the detail shop issue.

His speech morphs instantly into both worlds, emoting one minute “what they’ve done to me makes you want to bust somebody upside the head,” then assuring, “God will get me through this.”

Tedarral Muhammad was gratified Tuesday night after learning that the Horn Lake’s Board of Aldermen had voted to allow him to reopen his barbershop and auto detailing business that had been shut down after its first 30 days of operation.

A Horn Lake resident for five years, Muhammad said he wanted to start with something simple that didn’t need a lot of start up investment and that would “show black people down here that they can own their own business.”

A car wash and barbershop seemed a perfect fit.

“It speaks to our culture but it is also a business that offers services that all types of people need. I used to have to go all the way to Shelby Drive (in Memphis) when I wanted to get my car detailed. Things like that you want to do close to home. We put a few guys together with small investment and got started,” said Muhammad.

“We were doing almost $300 daily right off the bat. That was real good in terms of payroll.”

After about a month, “we were visited by a lady from the planning commission who said the area wasn’t zoned for this type of use. I was surprised because of the car wash right across the street. She instructed us that since we had already been issued the license we should get a conditional license and continue to operate.”

A month later, Muhammad estimates, Chief of Police Darryl Whaley stopped and issued a citation to on duty manager Jeremy Summers, citing the business for not maintaining proper distance from the street while soliciting customers with a hand held sign.  

According to Summers, it was not an Andy Griffith moment.

“Man, dude come rushing up in here and went off!” Summers claims.  “This was

on a Saturday and he was in his own personal truck. And I mean he clowned, with me anyway.  He was stomping and hollering at me, and I think it’s because I was black. He talked to the white guys that were working real polite, but he talked to me real crazy. He was threatening to take me to jail, asking for my license, following me all over the property and that’s when I started snapping back. He was real foul.”

Whaley confirms that he issued a citation for the sign distance violation, but citing department policy, said he could not discuss the matter further because it was scheduled for a court hearing.

Muhammad said a couple of weeks later he was told that the business needed a drain installed, and that he subsequently was denied a permit to get it done.  He provided a copy of a receipt reflecting that he paid a plumber a $500 deposit to do the work.

 “And that’s when they told us we had to go before the board of aldermen and closed us down,” said Muhummad. “They just up and shut us down after we had followed all their instructions. This has cost me $21,000, a thousand dollars a week.”

‘No one to blame but himself’

District 6 Alderman John Jones said Muhammad has no one to blame but himself.

“If he’s not going to work with the city and do what he is supposed to do, we can’t work with him. He didn’t try to get the permits until after 45 days and two weeks had expired” in the standard licensing procedure, Jones said.

Not so, Muhammad said.

“They didn’t tell us that when they told us to get the drain, they just came in and shut us down. And the records show that I immediately complied by hiring the plumber, but they stopped that in process.”

Jones also said the city “acted irresponsibly” when it issued the initial license to open.  

“There was so much stuff going on, there wasn’t enough oversight done. He should have made sure that the business was zoned for this purpose before opening.”

Muhammad, however, is suspicious of Jones because among the alderman’s many civic interests is his membership in the Samuel A. Hughey Camp #1452 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“A proud member,” said Jones, a former commander.

Can he not understand that such a membership is offensive to black people?

“And a lot of things black people do are offensive to me, but that’s beside the point,” Jones answered without rancor.

 “My grandparents were in it, and I have no regrets from being in it. His Muslim faith has nothing to do with the problem. The problem is that it cannot be accepted as it is. He should have been aware of that before he rented the property. Whoever rented the property should have told him.”

Ironically, Jones and Muhammad live in the same neighborhood.

“All I want to do is open my business and give some people some jobs,” said Muhummad.

“They should have never given me the license in the first place. Just give me a list and I’ll get it done.”

Case in point

At Tuesday’s meeting, an issue involving Lumber Liquidators helped give more context to Muhummad’s problem.

“You can’t find us on GPS,” said the store’s manager, in pursuit of being allowed to erect a permanent sign.

The manager caused the meeting to erupt in hearty laughter several times as he described the administrative ring around the rosy he has faced in trying keep a banner up to let customers know where the store is located. The lack of signage has cost the company “thousands of dollars” in lost revenue, and he still has to go through further permit and code reviews before a permanent sign can be erected.

The manager was given a waiver to place a banner up for ten days as allowed under the signage code. Though not as severe as Cut and Shine’s issue, it illustrates that new-business problems are not unique to Muhummad.

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