Zlata Plotnikova has worked at Alto Restaurant on Parc Avenue in downtown Montreal since April.
The restaurant was one of the businesses damaged in a huge fire Wednesday that also tore through an empty building and severely damaged neighbouring condos.
The five-alarm fire started around 9:20 a.m. in the vacant three-storey building at 3464 Parc Ave, just south of Milton Street.
Plotnikova, who is now an on-call waitress, said she has a close relationship with the restaurant’s owners, Tom and Fotini Xenos.
Fotini works in the mornings and her husband takes over at night.
“Both of them worked every single day, 365 days a year to serve you your 5 a.m. poutines,” said Plotnikova.
“It is especially painful to see it burning down after the amount of effort they, along with other staff members, have put in it.”
According to Fotini, the restaurant is a “total loss,” including tables, fridges and stoves.
“I truly believe that, as a community, we can help them to get over the hard times that they are about to face,” said Plotnikova.
She started a Tilt campaign to raise money for what is expected to be extensive renovations at the restaurant.
“Minimum amount is the cost of your regular small poutine – $6.95 – however, you can contribute as much as you want,” she wrote.
From the day she started working at the restaurant, Plotnikova said she’s always felt like part of the family.
“I am very upset that this happened to them because they simply do not deserve it,” Plotnikova told Global News.
“I know that the Milton-Parc community loves Alto and I thought there would be a great amount of people who would feel compassionate for their loss and help them to get over the hard times.”
As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the campaign had raised over $400.