The man known for selling flowers in Fells Point restaurants and bars has died. His neighbors knew him as Nassir, but few other biographical details, including a last name, were known for certain about the life of a man who had become a familiar presence in the close-knit neighborhood.
Moe Jadri, who spoke to Albatyna frequently in Fells Point, said that his last name was Albatyna.
“He was a really, really good guy,” said David Bernstein, who was among a group of neighbors who collected money for Albatyna’s funeral expenses on Saturday night.
Bernstein lives in the Aliceanna Street building where Albatyna shared an apartment with an older man, who also sold flowers. Albatyna was the more familiar presence, though, and having him suddenly appear in your periphery with his basketful of roses was a ritual of restaurant life in Fells Point.
“He was just a good human being, very genuine,” Bernstein said. “Every day you’d see him — he had a catchphrase — he’d always call you 'my friend.'“
Albatyna was found non-responsive by his roommate early Friday morning around 1:30 a.m., according to Bernstein. The roommate, who goes by the name Turkey, was not feeling up to going out on Saturday night with Albatyna's flowers — which had already been delivered. Turkey also wanted the flowers out of the apartment and asked Bernstein and another neighbor, April Queen, to take them away.
The neighbors decided to use the flowers to raise money for Albatyna and pay tribute to him along the way. They contacted the restaurants and bars on Albatyna's route to let them know they'd be coming by on Saturday night.
The group ended up raising more than $1,000, which they gave to Turkey.
Although many of the roses had perished before group went out, restaurant patrons didn’t mind, Bernstein said. “We unloaded all we had,” Bernstein said. “But most people just made donations when they found out what it was for.”
“Every place was amazing,” said Barany Chessa, who was among the volunteers. “The bartenders even let us stop the band to make an announcement. They knew what we were doing.”
On Monday, customers at the Daily Grind were leaving appreciations for the man they knew as Albatyna on a makeshift memorial in the cafe, said manager Lindsey Shanklin.