GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Rika's Chicken has moved from Wyoming to the Creston neighborhood in Northeast Grand Rapids.
The restaurant was nine months in the making, as the family business turned an empty building into a new place for opportunity.
The soft opening was Saturday, but as the owners prepared to fully open on Sept. 19, they were not expecting to receive such a gesture.
"It was cruel, unprofessional, and unnecessary. Honestly, it's just crazy how people still are," said K.B Dennard, who owns the business with his mother, Rika Dennard.
He said this came as a shock, since the neighborhood had largely been welcoming to their restaurant.
"They said they were gonna drive us out if we didn't go back to where we're from," K.D. said.
A neighbor found a note outside of the business with a long list of complaints about trash and noise. The note also said the business was, "not welcome in this quiet residential neighborhood."
K.D. said they can't help but believe the note was left because of race.
"It shouldn't matter. We sell good food, and don't care if you are black, blue, green, white, and so I mean, to be realistic and honest, that's the reason why. We are Black," K.D. said.
Rika says the person who left the note is just "one bad apple," and that they've received an outpouring of support from the community.
"I actually had a couple of ladies come in yesterday. I was here and asked me she gave me a hug, they're happy we're here, and thank you for opening up a new restaurant here, and she just said, 'Can I give you a hug? We appreciate you guys, and we love that you're here,'" Rika said.
People in the neighborhood said they were happy about the new business, and the person who wrote the note does not represent their community.
"It seems like they completely transformed the whole place, cleaned it up from a mess, and now it looks really nice in there, and yeah, I would like to say thank you and shake their hand," said Gary Hesselink, who lives next door to the business.
"I think that is a terrible thing," Hesselink added after he saw the note.
Although disheartened and taking measures to keep their business safe and secure, it does not change their plans to serve "the best chicken in town."
"For the ones who support us, thank you. For sure, we have the best chicken in town hands down," K.D. said.
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