By Kathy Feist
It was only a year ago when Shahida Hazziez and her husband Khalis Shareef celebrated the opening of their second event space, Gallery 705, located on Grandview’s Main Street. The celebration was short lived. Under mandates issued by the county government to fight the spread of Covid-19, Gallery 705 as well as all event spaces were deemed non-essential and shut down. As weddings were canceled and postponed in 2020, Gallery 705 struggled along with the couple’s first event space, Elegant Affairs, located just a few miles north on Blue Ridge Boulevard.
Elegant Affairs, a small facility seating 70 people, also serves as the New Africa Community Center, a nonprofit established by Hazziez in 2019. An extension of a Muslim community center located at 36th and Troost, it aims to teach teens entrepreneurial skills, fitness, cooking and etiquette as well as provide a summer lunch program.
In 2020, Hazziez turned the event space into a source of help for the community.
Hazziez and several volunteers began serving meals from the facility to first responders and the homeless.
“People would drive through while we passed out free dinners,” recalls Hazziez.
She sought grants that also helped provide assistance with utility bills or grocery gift cards. “We did the best that we could with the funds that were given us,” she said.
In all, over 200 people were serviced during the shutdown thanks to the nonprofit half of Hazziez’ business.
“We try to be different because we want to help the community first and foremost,” she explains. “You definitely have to take care of the community if you want them to take care of you.”
Hazziez, who also runs an award-winning party decor business, Life of the Party, says all three (for-profit) businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic. But things are beginning to change. Since the restrictive mandate allowing only 10 people at a gathering was lifted in February, business has slowly begun to pick up. “In the last two weeks, we’ve started getting lots of calls,” she says.
When not celebrating events, Elegant Affairs/Africa Community Center provides classes for teens who want to learn entrepreneurial skills and the hospitality field. Gallery 705 holds dance classes and other social events.
“It’s been hard, but we are just trying to be resilient,” Hazziez says. “We are just waiting to get back in the swing of things.”
Elegant Affairs Event Space is located at 12121 Blue Ridge Blvd. and Gallery 705 is at 705 Main St. in Grandview. For more information, go to www.elegantaffairseventspace.com.