Samsky’s Market in Manassas will stay open after the owner fought to keep a permit to sell fresh food.
“I don't believe this would have been possible without all the community support I received,” owner John Samsky said on Facebook. “Thank you!”
On Sept. 1, Samsky’s Market announced on Facebook that the store that sells 200 to 300 sandwiches daily was planning to close Oct. 1 because county staff told him he was not allowed to sell fresh food, because the property is zoned agriculture.
Samsky’s father opened the store in 1947. John Samsky ran the store from 1990 to 2003 and leased the property after that. After four months of renovations, Samsky reopened the market last November at 14705 Bristow Road in the mostly rural Independent Hill community near the Prince William County Public School’s Kelly Leadership Center.
A nonconforming use permit issued in 1958 “didn’t specifically mention selling fresh, non-packaged food,” Samsky wrote, but he and community members remember buying fresh food there over the decades.
“A grill has been operated since I was a kid or before,” he said.
After county staff said he couldn’t sell fresh food at the market, Samsky said he decided to close because those items were the most profitable for the business.
“I’d like to stay open, but I’m not going to be a store that sells [only] lollipops,” he said. “The grill is what brings people in.”
After reaching out to Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe, Samsky was given the opportunity to prove that the store sold fresh food in the 70s.
“How am I going to prove that?” he said. “I don’t have a photo of the store.”
Finally, county employees said if Samsky could provide witnesses who saw fresh food sold at the store, he could keep the noncorforming use permit.
Samsky thought he would only be able to use the property for agricultural uses, so he put up a sign that said “Coming Soon: Little Mister Stinky’s Hogg Farm.”
Instead, Samsky’s Market will remain a staple for residents who want a sandwich to go or to eat on tables near the market’s garden.