A shared commissary kitchen in Strathcona was heavily damaged in a fire that sparked Saturday.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help all the businesses who lost their shared space, known as “The Comm,” and much of their equipment.
According to the post, the businesses affected are: Top Rope Birria, Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck, Melt City Grilled Cheese, Modern Perogie, Shorba Bone Broth and Green Coast Coffee.
The shared fundraising goal is set at $135,000, with a separate campaign with a goal of $20,000 set up to support Shorba Bone Broth.
“All the things that we’ve amassed over the last two and a half years that weren’t with us at the moment on the truck, were lost unfortunately,” Kevin McKenzie, owner of Top Rope Birria, told Global News.
“Two double door commercial fridges, the same for freezers, all of our prep space, all of our racks, all of our inventory, we have a ton of stock at any given time.”
He says the cost of the damage is still being assessed but it’s expected to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Business has now been put on pause while he and his staff figure out how to move forward along with the dozens of other people who worked out of the kitchen along East Hastings and Jackson Avenue.
McKenzie’s food truck is often hooked up to power behind the kitchen and while it did survive, some cosmic misfortune struck their new hire.
“It was her third day, and she brought her e-bike and left it in the commissary, so it got pretty destroyed,” McKenzie added.
“We’re obviously going to help her out with that, but you know it’s a tough situation on many levels.”
Despite still coming to terms with the huge loss, McKenzie says he and his fellow business owners are trying to get back to work and are hoping not to completely lose the busy summer season.
“I would hope that you will see some Flying Elbow pop ups, things like that,” McKenzie explained while admitting finding a new kitchen may still be a way off.
“We’re working on little things to be able to get at least fired up a bit in the interim. But as far as a permanent solution is concerned there isn’t one right now and it’s going to take days, weeks, months to figure that out.”
On the issue of insurance, McKenzie says they won’t be covered due to the nature of the fire, which Vancouver Fire is treating as suspicious.
According to the businesses, the fire is believed to have been caused from a source outside their collective base of operations, which is not covered under their policy.
The fire was just one of three two-alarm fires in the area in as many days, assistant fire chief Ken Gemmill told Global News Sunday.
The issue of street fires on the Downtown Eastside from people using combustible fuel sources to stay warm has been an issue for months.
“I personally have put out probably half a dozen fires and reported another three or four in the two and a half years that I’ve been there and probably 50 per cent of those have been in the last six months,” McKenzie shared.
“Every day I come into the front and people seek shelter there. I understand. But the stuff we’ve been cleaning up, the evidence that there were fires burned overnight, is obvious.”
McKenzie says it’s a complicated issue seeing the hardships in the neighbourhood on a daily basis.
“Maybe where we’ll do business in the future will be a little bit safer for us. But there’s a lot of suffering going on down there. I don’t have the answer. I hope a solution is found.”