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The last days of Detroit’s Chaldean Town


DETROIT – The end could come any day now.

“We need to shut the door and get the hell out of here,” said Joseph Kawa, the 66-year-old owner of S&J Meats, a small, old-fashioned butcher shop on 7 Mile Road. He’s the J in the name. His brother Steve is the S.

Their shop sits in what was once the heart of Chaldean Town, a neighborhood along East 7 Mile at the northern edge of the city. For years, this area was the first stop for many Chaldean immigrants. They bought houses, opened businesses on the main strip and created a thriving neighborhood of restaurants and shops with a Middle Eastern flavor.

“It was beautiful,” said Steve Kawa, Joe’s 57-year-old brother. He stood behind the meat counter wearing the white smock of a butcher, waiting for customers. “We’d stay out here all night, and nobody would bother us. Everyone was very happy.”

All that’s gone now. Of the dozens of little businesses on the 7 Mile strip that catered to the Chaldeans and gave this area its ethnic flavor and its name, only two are left.

S&J Meats is one of them. A restaurant down the street is the other. And they might not be left for long.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press.

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