December 28, 2014

Elyria
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Former Shopway to reopen

The former Shopway Food Mart on Lave Avenue is scheduled to reopen as Popsway Food Mart. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

The former Shopway Food Mart on Lave Avenue is scheduled to reopen as Popsway Food Mart. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — The Lake Avenue building that housed a business that was shuttered by police after they say the operators were selling synthetic marijuana and running a food-stamp fraud operation will soon reopen under a new name and new management.

The owner of the Shopway building at Lake Avenue and Furnace Street has signed a lease agreement with a new tenant. A name plate on the building now says Popsway.

Ali Alawi, the owner of the building, reached a settlement with the city earlier this year that dismissed him from the nuisance lawsuit against the business and allowed him to rent the building to other tenants. In exchange, the city was granted the right to prior approval of any potential tenants who may be subject to a background check.

Alawi’s attorney, Kenneth Frankel, said all information about the new tenant was given to the city to satisfy the agreement, but he does not know if any background check has been performed.

“The city is aware a tenant is moving in and is satisfied,” he said.

Law Director Scott Serazin said police are performing a background check.

“But we are not complete with the check yet, so there’s not much I can say,” he said. “But keep in mind the agreement only requires they give us the name of the building operator. We can only take it so far. If that person is a front person or something else, there is nothing we can do.”

Serazin said he would have more information once the check is complete.

Frankel said Alawi, of Avon Lake, will have limited interaction with the business owners just as he had with Shopway’s operator, Thaer Mustafa.

City prosecutors never linked Alawi to any criminal activity at the store.

“All he does is find a tenant as the building owner and collect rent,” Frankel said. “My client doesn’t want any problems because he doesn’t want an empty building again. It’s not in his best interest.”

Mustafa continues to face several charges related to allegedly selling spice, a synthetic form of marijuana, and running a food-stamp fraud operation at Shopway in 2013.

He also faces charges for allegedly selling counterfeit items at another business, IMT Wireless, in downtown Elyria.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.