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Cops: Man beaten by building super and a resident after putting restaurant leaflets in their Harlem complex

January 19, 2005, New York Newsday [source]

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Chen Zhen Ping wanted to deliver menus to the stately Harlem co-op. Naim Shala told him to get lost.

By the time it was over, Ping, 23, a Chinese immigrant, had been beaten and Shala, the building superintendent, and another man, a psychiatrist who lives in the building, were under arrest for felony assault.

The Monday afternoon confrontation at a Harlem apartment building crystallized the tensions that often exist between buildings opposed to advertising and restaurants whose profitability depends on a healthy takeout business.

"I just want to live in the USA," Ping said yesterday at his Queens home, a welt above his eye and bruises marking his neck. "I just want to live happily with people."

But Shala, 42, said Ping put his foot in the door to gain access - even though he had been warned in the past about leaving menus in the lobby.

"We have told him before: 'You're not welcome,'" Shala said yesterday after his arraignment.

Ping said that when he showed up at 552 Riverside Dr., a seven-story co-op near West 128th Street, he was immediately confronted by Shala.

"The super told me, 'Hey guy, stop,'" Ping said. "I said, 'OK' and I left."

But Ping said Shala followed him outside and confronted him.

"I don't want to see you around here anymore," Ping quoted Shala as saying.

During the confrontation, the other suspect, Kaj Neve, 53, arrived, Ping said.

According to Ping, Shala hit and kicked him while Neve grabbed Ping's arms.

"I said, 'Sir, you can't do that - I need to call the police,'" Ping recalled. "He said, 'Go ahead - call the police.' A lot of people were on the sidewalk. Nobody helped me."

Ping used his cell phone to call 911, aided by a lone Good Samaritan, a female jogger who realized he was having a difficult time communicating with the dispatcher.

Ping was treated at St. Luke's Hospital. The suspects, arrested at the scene, were released yesterday without bail.

Neve, who has an Upper West Side practice, could not be reached for comment.

Shala's lawyer, Frederick Cohn, called the allegations "nonsense."

"This guy was trespassing," he said of Ping. "He was told to leave several times and he came back."

Ping, who works for his family's Broadway restaurant Ming's Wok, said he does not leave menus in buildings where he is asked not to, or in buildings where signs prohibit them. He said he needs to work to help support his mother, but is afraid he might be attacked again.

"This is for business," he said. "Everybody wants to make business. You say, 'No menus,' I leave. But you can't beat me."


Copyright 2005 Newsday, Inc.

Takeout come-ons fry their nerves

January 19, 2005, New York Newsday [source]

Cooking-challenged New Yorkers have overstuffed kitchen drawers bursting with takeout menus, while ethnic corner eateries have businesses to run.

The notions fit like chicken and white rice. Yet sometimes, with egg roll, you get tension.

"It's about security," said Simms Waife, speaking of the many delivery people he deals with as concierge at a 200-plus apartment building in Chelsea. He gets 50 food deliveries on an average night.

"These guys sit outside watching us. If you turn your back for just a little bit, they go in without permission and leave menus all over the place."

A doorman's job can be jeopardized if he allows guests in unannounced. Tenants are paying to have their visitors monitored, note building officials, and the fear is that an uninvited guest could burglarize an unsecured apartment.

One residential apartment employee said he believes roughly 10 delivery people a week sneak into the building to distribute menus from floor-to-floor. They've ignored peace-making invitations to leave menus in the public mail room, he says.

Restaurant owners, for their part, say they try to stay sensitive to the wants of their customers.

At Turkaz, a Turkish eatery in Harlem across the street from where deliveryman Chen Zhen Ping was beaten Monday, owner Ahmet Atilgan said he had so many complaints about his menu distribution that he completely stopped, turning instead to direct-mail advertising.

"When they would complain, it was upsetting, so we don't do that anymore," said Atilgan, who plans to use the same direct-mail approach at a new Rego Park restaurant.

At the Riverside Drive apartment where Ping was confronted, co-op owner Dora Rentas yesterday said the onslaught of paperwork from Chinese and Italian restaurants was troublesome.


Copyright 2005 Newsday, Inc.

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