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Queens Grocer At His Wit's End As Store Goes Weeks Without Power

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Anil Argawal, wiping away tears, explains the frustration of sitting in his dark Kew Gardens, Queens, grocery store, with no electricity, empty coolers and freezers, and no business for months.

"I came 30 years ago in this country hoping to make a bright future for my kids and my wife," he told CBS2's Marcia Kramer. "Now I feel like I got nothing to provide them."

CBS2 first reported about Argarwal's plight six weeks ago after the electricity was turned off as the result of a complicated series of events involving the MTA, which owns the property because the store is on a bridge over the Long Island Rail Road; the landlord, who has a deal with the MTA to sublease the 13 stores on the bridge; and Con Ed, which was called in to help upgrade the power lines, a move necessary to serve the freezers and coolers installed in the grocery.

"I do not know what to do," Argawal said.

Kramer demanded answers from everyone involved, encountering a stunning level of bureaucracy and finger-pointing about who has responsibility.

Anil Argawal
Anil Argawal's grocery store in Kew Gardens, Queens, has been without power since late June. (credit: CBS2)

Putting aside the blame game, an Aug. 4 letter from Con Ed to landlord Kunal Kapoor said he had to install something called a "sleeve" in the foundation before Con Ed could get started.

The landlord's lawyer said he thought the sleeve came after Con Ed did the work. Now he knows differently. He said he expects the sleeve will be installed next week.

The real question is whether Argawal will ever be able to restock all the empty shelves

"I don't even have the money to fill it up," he said.

"I have only $2 right now as of this moment."

The $2 was all the money he took in Friday. Someone bought a soda.

Both the MTA and Con Ed say they will expedite the work, but it could take another month.

The landlord and the grocer also have a fight over back rent. The landlord said Argawal owes eight months worth. The store owner disputes that.

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