Alexandria, VA

The owner of a controversial Halal slaughterhouse plans to open up for business at 3225 Colvin Street this June.

Despite being $150,000 in the hole due to paying legal fees and $8,000 a month in rent, Abdul Mused says he is excited to open Saba Live Poultry at 3225 Colvin Street. The anticipated opening comes after nearly a year of legal challenges from neighboring businesses and residents.

Mused and his family are based in New York and now own 18 Saba Live Poultry locations around the country. The company plans on expanding to 50 slaughterhouses in total, and even opened three new locations while the case against the city’s decision to approve their special use permit was held up in the Alexandria Circuit Court.

“I think this location is going to be one of my best locations. I think the neighbors will be very happy when I open,”Mused told ALXnow. “Yes, it was a lot of drama they made out of it. I believe they overreacted to it. It doesn’t make sense. It made me lose money and struggle. They are just afraid of the unknown. It’s like any small business, and it sounds like a big deal because it’s a slaughterhouse.”

Mused was raised in Yemen and runs the company with his nine brothers in Brooklyn.

The slaughterhouse will be located next door to a number of pet-related businesses, and many owners are worried that the constant odor of hundreds of chickens being slaughtered will disturb their four-legged clients. The industrial and commercial block is home to the Wholistic Hound Dog AcademyFrolick DogsDogtopia, Pinnacle Pet Spa & More, as well as the Wild Bird Center of Alexandria.

“This is something people eat. You have to be clean and sanitary and up to code. I’m dealing with the USDA — the U.S. Department of Agriculture — and the local health department. They are on me 24/7,” Mused said. “They will shut me down in a minute if I’m not up to code.”

The slaughterhouse was a top issue in the city in 2019, as the city and council received thousands of letters and emails on the project. A petition was signed by 1,795 people requesting that the special use permit application council approved 5-2 last March be rescinded. Then in November, Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Lisa Kemler threw out the second case levied against the city and council by 10 citizens and business owners who live and work in the area.

Kevin Gilliam, who owns the Frolick Dogs canine daycare, spoke against the slaughterhouse in the city council public hearing before its decision.

“I said my peace when I went last year, and I did what I could do, but I think you have a lot of people in the community who don’t want it, and they took it to court,” Gilliam said. “I’ve got a business to run. I can’t chase chickens all day, know what I mean? There’s not much I can do about it.”

The chickens are raised in an Amish community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and Saba Live Poultry will receive up to 500 chickens every other day in closed box trucks, which will make drop-offs between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. in the rear of the building. The business will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and customers will be able to walk in, select a chicken in a steel cage with a number attached to its leg. The customer receives a ticket with the number as the chicken is taken into another room and slaughtered.

“The question most usually asked about Halal concerns the method of slaughter,” Mused wrote in the SUP application. “All meat and poultry we process will be slaughtered strictly in accordance with the Islamic rites, where one of the most important prerequisites is the humane treatment of any animal intended for human food. Saba Live Poultry believes that the concept of Halal involves the whole process of meat production, from the wholesome food feel to the animals in their rearing right through until the meat reaches the consumer.”

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