Pipestone St. could soon have a new restaurant

NOW: Pipestone St. could soon have a new restaurant

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – A Benton Harbor father and son are seeking city approval to build a soul food restaurant on a vacant lot on Pipestone Street.

“What we plan to do is provide jobs for the church members and then provide good food at a good, reasonable price for the people in that area,” said Josef Bullocks, who wants to build the restaurant.

Josef and his father, Arthur, see an opening for opportunity in the vacant lot that is 420 Pipestone Street.

Sitting inside the family’s nearby parish on Tuesday, Josef walked through the blueprints of a soul food restaurant he hopes to build.

But public opinion is split along the historic stretch of road in Benton Harbor; where sprawling homes of yesteryear stand next to those that are now rundown and forgotten.

“There’s a bunch of kids over here and they play all over the place,” said Gary Lloyd. “So, it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a restaurant. Then you got traffic, vacant houses – I think he should find another lot.”

Lloyd lives right across from the empty lot with his three kids.

He’s worried about parking, and the idea of squeezing a restaurant onto the property.

But Josef plans for his business to be a takeout and drive-thru joint – meaning little parking required.

The idea is something Amber Wright likes.

She works at the public housing development that sits right next to the lot.

She said a restaurant would not only be convenient, but encouraging.

“We do need a rejuvenation in this area, especially with so many boarded up buildings,” she said. “We need to do something that will bring beauty to the community.”

Pipestone Street speaks to the struggles Benton Harbor is facing.

There are a lot of liquor stores, but few functioning grocery stores.

Josef hopes an affordable restaurant will solve some of the problems and brighten up the city.

“We ain’t doing it for, like, a big profit,” he said. “We just basically trying to help the community out. And that’s our goal.”

A public hearing to discuss the potential restaurant was set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Benton Harbor City Hall.

The lot – which Josef and his construction company already own – is currently zoned to hold a house, but not a business.

He said if the city approves a switch at the public hearing, he can start building as soon as next month.

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