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Vondel Park's Owners Blame Area for Closing

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"I don't think it's feasible to do business in that location," she says. "People walk in off the street with blood on their face. … I can't have my bartender there by herself at night."

But it's the vandalism and homeless situation in the area that frustrates Cornwell most.

"Every day we'd come to work, and there would be human feces with napkins stuck in it. I'm not cleaning that up anymore," says Cornwell. "The police give everyone who comes in to eat a parking ticket, but they can't do anything about the homeless people who use [the restaurant's alley] as their toilet. There's nothing you can do about it."

"I don't know about that," says neighboring restaurant owner Angela Whitley-Ripp, who believes that any area has its obstacles, but that in her case, the police are helping.

"The merchants try to work with the police," Whitley-Ripp says. "We've been here for over eight years, and we have a good working relationship with the police. We actually hire them to help us."

Although Vondel Park was not Cornwell's first restaurant experience, she says it will be her last. "One crackhead too many for me," she says.

Cornwell and Biss do not plan to reopen a restaurant in Richmond. — Ashley

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