In northern St. Louis County, Red’s Barbecue is apparently the place to go for good barbecue.

Unfortunately, it’s also a local business that’s been looted several times in the aftermath of the Ferguson police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

The Washington Post reports that current Red’s owner Varun Madaksira is philosophical about the whole thing, and has pledged to reopen to serve his beloved community. Madaksira told WaPo,

“I don’t blame my customers for being upset. Do I blame the city of Ferguson for not having it together to deal with people? Absolutely. The police, they don’t care about my customers.”

Even though Red’s got burned down in the wake of the rage that coursed through the city, WaPo reports that Madaksira calmly took some red spray paint and painted a message to the community on the plywood boarding up the restaurant: “We Will Be Back!”

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Some other business owners on West Florissant Avenue—ground zero for the shooting that sparked a sense of massive injustice—have mixed feelings about reopening.

Prime Time Barber Shop Antonio Henley told WaPo, “It feels like a coverup, to be honest with you. Like they are trying to be nice to keep everyone calm. I want business to improve. But I also want justice for Mike Brown.”

Slowly, though, the community (and some visitors) are starting to flow back through Red’s doors. Local resident Tyrone Stokes said he plans to “keep supporting this place as long as the meat stays so tender and the prices stay low.”

We all know that food builds community. Each and every one of us has seen that throughout our lives, no matter where we come from.

Although it’s rough going, it’s nice to see that food can also help to rebuild community, especially in the face of terrible times.

Madaksira’s resilience is a beacon of delicious light in a town that’s seen far too many troubling days in recent time. We hope that the power of truly great barbecue can help the healing vibe spread.

[via WaPo]

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