MSP shoe shine business that lost spot after 60 years finds new home
(FOX 9) - For more than 40 years, Rosemary Zeno has brought new life to old shoes. Now she is doing the same thing to the business she inherited when her father died back in 2008.
"Overjoyed and these are tears of joy. I'm just so happy to be able to continue my father's legacy," said Zeno.
FOX 9 first met Rosemary in 1998, when her dad Royal Zeno, made national news after the Metropolitan Airports Commission tried to give the shoe shine stand he had operated at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for decades the boot, during a multi-million dollar makeover of the main concourse.
Public outcry changed the MAC's mind, but history repeated itself 25 years later, when the commission voted to go with another Black-owned shoe shine vendor last summer.
"That was so many emotions. A lot of anger. Betrayal. I felt like I was really stabbed in the back," said Zeno.
For the last six months, Rosemary has operated a single shoe shine stand by appointment only at the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.
When the general manager of that building left to go to the new Gateway Tower in downtown Minneapolis, home to the Four Seasons Hotel and Mara restaurant, he approached Rosemary about opening a second location.
"With the door closing at the airport, a new door opened and I'm super excited to see what Rosemary and her team can do here," said Tannen Loge, Vice President and Senior General Manager at JLL Property.
Rosemary says she'll kick off the new stand on Tuesday.
It'll be open four days a week after that, where she will continue to make the world a shinier place, one shoe at a time, for as long as she can.
"Until God tells me I can't do it no more. As long as I have breath and strength in my body and I can't pop a rag. Let's see," said Zeno.