A MILKSHAKE parlour has reopened under new management three months after its previous owner was gunned down in the shop.
Cakes & Shakes on Woodford Green High Road has been closed since James Bryant was shot on November 14 while cleaning up the damage from a previous attempt on his life just days earlier.
Mr Bryant survived, but in the wake of the attack he has sold the franchise to 30-year-old Ali Rashid.
Mr Rashid, who has given up a career as a software manager in the City to run the business, said: “When I was considering this, I thought it might be too much stress and hassle regaining the trust of the local community.
“But we have had so many young people on Facebook and Twitter saying we really want the shop to reopen, that I decided to go for it.”
He acknowledges that some members of the community will be wary of the shop reopening after what happened and spoke to the mother of James Bryant before taking over the business.
And he added: “She gave us her blessing, and is quite happy for us to take over.
“Our message to everyone is to give us a chance.
“We hope to become a valued part of the local community.”
Mr Rashid said the shop will open from 10am until 11pm seven days a week, but added that he would review those hours if the community wanted.
Co-manager of the shop Zubain Khaliq, 28, admitted he had doubts about helping his friend out at first.
He said: “I didn’t know about the shooting when Ali mentioned he was taking over the shop.
“When I found out, my initial reaction was ‘no, let’s not do this.’ But then I thought about it sensibly.
“We have come here with clean hearts and we want to run a nice business.”
Vic Antoniou, 63, works at hairdressers Hair 186, a few doors down from Cakes & Shakes.
He said: “Because of everything that happened, we weren’t sure if it would reopen again, but I’m delighted.
“I will pop in a few times a week. Today I had a passion fruit yoghurt ice-cream and it was beautiful. Good luck to them!”
And Glody Nsamu, 18, of Broadmead Road was also happy.
He said: “Me and my friends came here almost every day, and never saw any trouble.
“When we found out what happened we were all just really shocked.
“It’s my first time back and the new people seem really nice.”
Two men have been charged in connection with the shooting in November.
Temidire Owolabi, 21, of no fixed address, formerly of Brandon Close, Chafford Hundred in Grays, Essex, and Romaine Arthur, 22, of Hazel Way in Chingford, are due to enter pleas on March 21, with a trial pencilled in for May 8.
An 18-year-old man has been arrested and bailed until March 21 in connection with the shooting.