Mohamad RAWAID d/b/a B.P. Quickmart, Appellant
MURGUIA & ARIAS GROCERY, LLC d/b/a Liborio's Market and May's New Albany Rental, LLC, Appellees.
Regan S. Russell, New Albany, attorney for appellant.
Wallace Alfred Welshans III, Batesville, attorney for appellees.
Before LEE, C.J., MAXWELL and FAIR, JJ.
¶ 1. Mohamad Rawaid, owner of BP Quickmart in New Albany, Mississippi, wants to shut down the Hispanic grocery store next door, which he claims is cutting into his beverage and tobacco sales. Both properties used to be part of the same parcel. And when the parcel split in two, Rawaid's property became the beneficiary of a covenant restricting how the other property could be used— until 2019, no portion of the other property can be used to operate a " convenience-type food store" or sell gasoline.
¶ 2. Rawaid claims Murguia & Arias Grocery, LLC (M & A Grocery) is violating that restrictive covenant by selling some of the same food and non-food items that he does. But the covenant does not restrict the operation of any " food store" or any food store selling some of the same items that a convenience store sells. It only restricts the operation of a food store of the " convenience type."
¶ 3. The chancellor found M & A Grocery's food store was not of the " convenience type" and, thus, did not violate the restrictive covenant. Not only does the store cater to a specific demographic (Hispanics), stock mainly items labeled in Spanish, and advertise as a " Mexican" store, it does not have extended early-morning and late-night hours like a convenience store and is not designed for quick in-and-out purchases. Instead, like other grocery stores, it provides carts and baskets for its customers' use in perusing and amassing items such as meat, sodas, household cleaners, even piatas, from its multiple aisles of shelves, freezers, and refrigerators.
¶ 4. As our law does not generally favor restrictive covenants, the chancellor rightly construed the phrase " convenience-type food store" to mean only food stores of the " convenience type" and no others. And the chancellor supported his finding— that M & A Grocery's food store was not of the " convenience type" — with credible and substantial evidence from the record.
Thus, we affirm the chancellor's judgment denying Rawaid's request for a permanent injunction against M & A Grocery.
¶ 5. The New Albany properties on which BP Quickmart and M & A Grocery operate used to be part of the same piece of property, with the same owner, R.R. Morrison & Son, Inc. R.R. Morrison & Son split the property into separate parcels. When it sold one parcel to James May in 1992, it placed a restriction in the deed:
[N]o portion of the property shall be utilized for the operation of a convenience-type food store nor shall the retail sale, storage or distribution of motor fuels or petroleum fuel products be permitted on any portion of the above described lands for a period of twenty-five (25) years from [January 30, 1992].
And when it sold another parcel to Lisa Carr 1994, it expressly stated Carr's parcel would be the beneficiary of the ...