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Siblings Step In After Passing Of Market Owner

After working for more than two years to add a sandwich shop to his convenience store, Asif Dawood opened an Erbert and Gerbert’s franchise inside the 5th Avenue Market last October. Once it was going smoothly, he intended to start making upgrades to the market itself in January of this year.

Asif Dawood

But Asif died of cardiac arrest in December at the age of 60, leaving his family stunned and unsure of what to do next. Then the COVID-19 pandemic added another blow, with sales dropping at their Erbert and Gerbert’s franchise by 75-80 percent, according to Asif’s 32-year-old son, Zeeshan.

Now he and his sister, Aliya, 21, are guiding the store in a new direction. They ended the store’s contract with Erbert & Gerbert’s, they sold another market that their father owned in Edina, and they’re focused on bringing the upgrades to the North Loop store that their father had envisioned.

Besides higher quality displays, they’ll bring in a greater variety of food choices which could include dairy free and gluten free options. “We are a convenience store, so how do we take that convenience to the next level?” said Zeeshan. “This area, I feel like, wants to be healthy, wants to treat themselves well. How can we have both? I want a little dessert but I also want to be healthy. I want to have both those options for somebody who walks in.”

Zeeshan is on leave from his job with an e-commerce firm, while Aliya is taking a break from her studies at Loyola University in Chicago where she’s working on a Finance degree.

“I think there’s so much potential here and we have such a great community,” she said. “We’re going to try and bring in new products and definitely make it so it’s more upscale and just a fun environment to be in.”

They also plan to create a new online presence with a website and social media accounts. They just debuted an Instagram account last week. 

Tuesday night, their brother Zahir helped them take down the Erbert and Gerbert’s sign and replace it with the original 5th Avenue Market sign.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Aliya, “because my dad put so much time and effort into building both these businesses. So seeing this one go was kind of hard. But at the end of the day, we know that there’s so much potential and so much room for growth.”

The sandwich counter will likely not go away. The siblings are hoping to bring in another food vendor to lease the space, perhaps someone who produces baked goods or other foods that can utilize the current kitchen setup.

For more updates on what’s happening in the North Loop, check our News Section.

By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood Association