Palo Alto's Fran's Market closes suddenly; owners and customers say the eviction notice came at a bad time.
DOWNTOWN MARKET CLOSES ... Montana Saleh and his brother, Frank, have had a bad month, quite possibly the worst month of their lives. As owners of Fran's Market, the little corner grocer at 499 Lytton Ave., at the intersection of Cowper Street, they were suddenly evicted. The small, old-fashioned market closed June 30 after 24 years in business. It was a one-two punch for the brothers. Not only were they evicted, but the notice also came just days after Frank was diagnosed with colon cancer. "The landlord didn't want us here. And the reason? We sometimes have homeless people hanging out around the corner and the landlord didn't like that," Montana said. "I like to help them," he added. "If they're hungry and they don't have any money, I will give them food from my store. My wife makes me lunch sometimes and I'll end up giving it to them. Homeless people are depressed. I try to make things better for them." The Saleh brothers are well known in the Downtown North neighborhood. "They are compassionate and community-minded -- both of them are," commented a woman named Adele, who said she has been a customer of Fran's Market for more than 10 years. "They would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. It's not fair what's happening to them."
Montana said he is unhappy with the recent turn of events. "I don't like the way the landlord is dealing with this. It's bad timing. He was aware my brother just found out he had cancer and then he evicted us," he said. Montana is very appreciative of his customers and the support they've shown. "They have given me cards and they are saying prayers for my brother. I'm so sorry it ended up like this," he said. Despite the setback, his work is not done. "I have a boarding house for veterans in Stockton," he explained. "I charge them a very nominal fee for room and board. Most of the veterans are over 60 years old, and even though I'm younger than them, they look at me as a dad, because I'm there to help them, to talk to them, to make them feel better."
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