Some fans of the restaurant in the East End, say the closing is indicative of a growing trend in the neighborhood. They say minority-owned businesses are being pushed out by larger developers looking to capitalize on the neighborhood’s growing popularity.
“It is very frustrating to see another minority owned business close it doors. Jamie Wallace’s restaurant is a very diverse melting pot of the community/region,” said Vernard Alexander. “He took a chance to invest 100 percent of his own money in an area that no one wanted to be in while every other restaurant that have moved in to East Liberty has received assistance from the URA, East Liberty Development Inc.”
However, other’s believe the decision to close Abay was more personal. Wallace also operates another restaurant in Reagent Square.
“Jamie was a pioneer in the neighborhood. I think it’s a statement about how much how much he’s doing in his personal life,” said Nate Cunningham, director of real estate for East Liberty Development Inc. “Our big hope is that Jamie takes some time off and comes back raring to go. I certainly doing think this is the last we’ve heard of him.”