Karen and Nepali grocery store replaces troublesome St. Paul strip club

The opening of Karen and Nepali grocery store was celebrated by the St. Paul community Saturday as it replaces the spot of a former strip club once considered by many to be a magnet for crime.

Nearly three years ago, LaTanya Black lost a child near the intersection of Rice Street and Larpenteur Avenue. Her 23-year-old daughter Nia "Brooklyn" Black was shot and killed outside the Lamplighter Lounge, a strip club known for attracting criminal activity. 

Now, in May 2023 the space has been transformed. After the Lamplighter Lounge closed last year, new owner Khem Rai stepped in to open the Karen and Nepali grocery store. To give Rai’s new business a warm welcome, neighbors gathered at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday.

"Today is a win for this community. It’s restoration for this community. It’s healing for this community and this is just a start of the goodness that’s going to come," LaTanya said.

Rai’s Karen and Nepali grocery store is located at 160 Larpenteur Avenue West in St. Paul, "This business can change things over here," Rai finished. "If you want a friendly environment, good customer service, good food, this is a place for you."