Activists rally to save Ethiopian coffee shop in Bronx

RIVERDALE, Bronx (WABC) -- An Ethiopian coffee shop in the Bronx has become the center of a cry for help to save small businesses in danger of closing amid the pandemic.

The owners of Buunni Coffee say they will have to close by the end of January because they can't meet their landlord's rent demands.

Activists are calling on state and city lawmakers to pass already proposed legislation to help businesses like Buunni survive.

"Small businesses faced serious problems before COVID, and now the pandemic has brought us to a breaking point," Sarina Prabasi, co-founder of Buunni Coffee, said. "This is not about any one business. It's beyond time to create bold, comprehensive support for the smallest of businesses and our workers. We have an opportunity to address long-standing inequities, to level the playing field and to invest in our neighborhoods for the long term. But this will take courage and political will from our elected representatives."

Those at the rally said Buunni has been a vital part of the neighborhood, a center for local activism, art, and music for the past three years.

"Immigrant-owned small businesses, such as Buunni Coffee, have become one of the biggest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic with them closing at an alarming rate all across the City, including The Bronx," Sen. Gustavo Rivera said. "The federal government's inaction has left hard working businesses owners such as Ms. Prabasi at risk of losing their livelihoods and our borough in danger of a deeper economic crisis. I join local leaders and Riverdale residents in calling on our local government to fill the void left by Washington and enact legislation that will help businesses like Buunni Coffee to remain open and successfully recover from this unprecedented crisis."

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