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Highland Strip business owners speak out after standoff shut down their street Tuesday

The hours-long standoff on Highland Street Tuesday shut down traffic and brought business activity temporarily to a halt in the Highland Strip.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —

The hours-long standoff on Highland Street Tuesday shut down traffic and brought business activity temporarily to a halt in the Highland Strip near the University of Memphis.

“When this happened, we were so surprised,” owner of Flame Mediterranean Grill Joe Jodeh said.  

Some businesses on the highland strip are moving forward after an armed standoff between 26-year-old Jarrad Nathan and the Memphis police.   

“We are by the University of Memphis and it’s a very important area here,” Jodeh said. “A lot of people from different areas of the country, they come here bringing their kids to school.”  

After Tuesday’s standoff, a few businesses on the strip remain closed while others are open, but with caution.

Tuesday’s events, for some, only reinforced the reality of violent crime causing them to make costly and immediate changes in their security efforts. 

“It was a huge effect on our business when it came to customers and us making any kind of profit,” Jerry Luellen.

Luellen, with Smackers, said during the hours of the standoff he lost about 30% of the income from his usual daily sales. He said in order to ensure the safety of his customers and staff he's willing to take a financial hit by investing in new locks and security systems.    

“We have surveillance and things of that nature,” Luellen said. “But we just wanted to upgrade our lock system as far as door locks and things of that nature from the exterior doors as well as the interior doors.”   

For one of the handful of minority-owned businesses on the strip it’s a price they feel must be paid to save a life. 

“We’re living in wicked times right now, so it’s an unfortunate cost but it has to be done,” Luellen said.  “You know any kind of money outside of what we already have to spend when it comes to payroll and things of that nature; yeah, it does hurt” 

Wednesday, in an open letter today to Memphis elected officials, the Memphis Restaurant Association brought up crime and asked how they could help.

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