Food fight burns in New York

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NEW YORK (AP) – A simmering feud between a fried-chicken restaurant and the doughnut shop next door boiled over Monday when the owner of one store set the other store on fire, arson investigators said.

The Bronx food fight began when a Twin Donut shop started competing with a Kennedy Fried Chicken by adding legs, wings, breasts and thighs to its menu and selling plates of food for 50 cents cheaper, supervising fire marshal Robert Pinto said.

The chicken place’s owner, Kabeer Ahmad, whose business had taken a nosedive, used a hammer to punch a hole in the wall between the stores around 4 a.m. Monday, squirted gasoline into the doughnut shop and tossed in a lit match before driving off, Pinto said. The blaze destroyed the doughnut shop, but the chicken restaurant was unscathed, he said. No injuries were reported.

Workers at a 24-hour deli in the same commercial building shared by the other stores called the Fire Department of New York when they smelled smoke. They told FDNY investigators they had seen Ahmad locking up and leaving the chicken store earlier than usual – right before the flames erupted.

Ahmad was questioned by investigators when he returned to the building, where firefighters were putting out the blaze and cleaning up the mess.

He was arrested when he confessed, Pinto said.

“The chicken store guy eventually admitted he was suffering,” Pinto said. “In a moment of weakness he punched a hole in the store wall and sprayed gasoline.”

Ahmad, who was charged with arson, a felony punishable by up to 25 years to life in prison, was in custody Monday night.

He didn’t have a lawyer and hadn’t been visited by his family, and there was no telephone number listed for him at the home address provided by the FDNY. He was to be arraigned Tuesday.

The owner of the doughnut shop, Mike Chhor, said he didn’t know why his neighbor set the fire and destroyed his business, which he bought three weeks ago.

“I don’t know why he burned the store,” Chhor said. “I had no problem with him.”

AP-ES-01-01-07 2203EST

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