Akm F. Haque, owner and operator of Philly Cheesesteak Place on Cheshire Bridge Road. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

A pair of Georgia Department of Transportation workers started moving the orange drums and the ‘Road Closed’ sign outside of the Avana Cheshire Bridge apartments just after noon Monday. The piece of the busy road that had been closed since August 2021 following a fire is now open again. Though only open in two lanes, the access to local businesses will be a welcome sight after some have closed and others have lost a significant amount of business brought on by foot and car traffic.

Philly Cheesesteak Place owner Akm F. Haque was busy taking orders by phone when the official bridge re-opening took place. “Hello, Philly Cheesesteak Place, what would you like?,” he said. “Chicken, no onions, mayo, OK got it.”

These days a large portion of his business, located at 2000 Cheshire Bridge Road, Suite F., are to-go orders from employees at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Emory Healthcare, both nearby on Clifton Road. That customer base has remained but the afternoon and weekend foot walk-in customers have slowed severely, he says. “It took a long time for the bridge to be fixed, we are just surviving now,” Haque said.

An Atlanta Department of Transportation worker removes the ‘Road Closed’ sign near 2124 Cheshire Bridge Road Monday, October 31, 2022. Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

When told the bridge was finally re-opened he seemed surprised. He’s too busy to watch local news or listen to local radio. Haque has had to cut some of his staff or has reduced their shifts due to the bridge closure. On Monday afternoon he was working the grill, the register and answering phones by himself. “A lot of our employees took the bus so they couldn’t get here so easily,” he said. 

Haque wonders why it took so long for the bridge to be rebuilt. He compared this bridge project to when I-85 suffered damage from a fire in March 2017 and how quickly that was rebuilt. 

But there was no time to think about Atlanta Department of Transportation business, there were orders to fill. “Councilmen, they haven’t come to see us,” Haque said. “Nobody.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...