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Crash forces Society Cafe to close days after grand opening

Buildings at the corner of Blackfriars Street and Wilson Avenue remained boarded up on Monday following a weekend crash that left extensive damage in the area.
Buildings at the corner of Blackfriars Street and Wilson Avenue remained boarded up on Monday following a weekend crash that left extensive damage in the area. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

Society Cafe is closed just days after it opened because a car crashed into the building Sunday morning.

Society Cafe’s owner, Robert Dore, told Global News that it was a bitter cup to swallow when he first learned of the crash on Blackfriars Street near Wilson Avenue following a call from his landlord.

“I was shocked to see bricks everywhere and a big hole in the wall of our cafe.”

The crash came came less than two weeks after the cafe’s grand opening on Oct. 18.

“We were building a little community and things were going well and then bang, this happens.”

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‘Our plan is to reopen’

The future remains unclear for Society Cafe.

“I can’t even get into my cafe yet because it hasn’t been cleared by the city,” Dore said.

“Our plan is to reopen, but first we have to assess the damage and see how long it will take to rebuild the wall and to get set up again.”

The length of the repair is the biggest worry on Dore’s mind, who adds that the building was constructed in the 19th century and the location of the crash may make matters worse.

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“We don’t know if we’re going to be waiting weeks or several months.”

The single vehicle crash also left another home damaged across the street from the cafe.

“I think it twisted around and went right through the living room, just feet from where the lady was sleeping there,” Dore said.

“It’s just remarkable that the lady was not injured whatsoever. The driver was not injured.”

A home across the street from Society Cafe that also fell victim to Sunday morning’s crash. Tire tracks can still be seen in the lawn.
A home across the street from Society Cafe that also fell victim to Sunday morning’s crash. Tire tracks can still be seen in the lawn. Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

It was around 3:30 a.m Sunday when officers were called to the area that sits less than 300 metres west of London’s historic Blackfriars Bridge.

Police say a vehicle was travelling at a high rate of speed when it collided with a pair of hydro poles and multiple buildings.

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The driver of the vehicle was arrested on scene and later transported to hospital.

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Tyrease Phouttharath, 20, of London, has been charged with impaired operation and impaired operation with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit.

He is scheduled to appear in a London court on Nov. 20.