Edmontonians show up for last taste of popular convenience store fried chicken prior to closure
For 35 years Ralph’s Handi Mart has been more than just a popular corner store in Edmonton’s Strathearn neighbourhood.
“It’s a great spot to come in and eat. A lot of people knew about it, they always served really good chicken,” longtime customer Martin Rowe said who came by to treat his son to his favorite fried chicken.
People have come for the fried chicken for years but stayed for the welcoming atmosphere. However, the owners said a new LRT line has forced the beloved convenience store to permanently close.
Dozens of neighbours came to say goodbye, share memories with the owners and get one last taste of their favorite chicken on Saturday.
“We used to come here for lunch quite often, so just really good chicken, really friendly people that own the store,” longtime customer Krissy Shulte said who came stopped by for some fried chicken.
“It’s sad, (it was) such a big part of my childhood, lots of good memories, I’m sad to see it go.”
“It’s a loss of a meeting place, it’s a loss of an aspect of community,” added customer Kevin Bell.
Hussein Saleh, also known as ‘Ralph’, bought the store more than three decades ago, wanting to provide for his family.
His passion to support the community and serve his famous chicken has made this closure difficult for him and many people who often stopped by to eat.
“We’ve got our own special blend of spices, nobody can make this special blend or get this blend other than dad, and so I think people really like it,” Ralph’s daughter Fatima Saleh said. “It’s evident people like it.”
While Ralph will miss serving his famous blend of herbs and spices, it’s the people and relationships he’s made over the years that matter most.
“We are like friends, they are like family to us,” Ralph said.
“It wasn’t just a transaction here, it really was a relationship with the community, we were there for them they were there for us,” Fatima said.
The family said it is now looking for a new location for their store, and they’re hoping to find a spot in the same community they’ve grown to love.
“It’s just a staple in this community,” Shulte said.
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