Adored Black Walnut café destroyed in $2M blaze, owners life ‘flipped upside down’

Fire officials were called to the Black Walnut Bakery Café at 134 Wortley Road around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Sawyer Bogdan/Global News

A beloved coffee shop in London’s Wortley Village was destroyed after it went up in flames early Sunday, causing roughly $2 million in damages.

Fire officials were called to the Black Walnut Bakery Café at 134 Wortley Rd. around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, according to platoon chief Kirk Loveland.

Crews tried to contain the blaze, but “unfortunately, the fire kept progressing (and) broke through the roof,” Loveland told 980 CFPL.

No one was inside the building and no injuries were reported.

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According to fire officials, “crews worked extremely hard to save the building,” but due to safety concerns, the site of the popular café has since been demolished.

The Black Walnut Bakery Café at 134 Wortley Rd. in London, Ont., was demolished after an overnight fire ripped through the building on Sunday April 16, 2023. Jess Brady/980 CFPL

“There’s too much structural damage,” Loveland said. “We tried to save as much as we could of that building but it’s structurally to a point where it’s (unsafe).”

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Black Walnut owner Mandy Etheridge said she and her family are devastated by the fire.

“We’re not doing well,” she told 980 CFPL. “I’ve worked on this place for 12 years and it’s my life and it just went up in flames.”

“It’s a lot to process,” she continued. “You never know when your life is going to get flipped upside down.”

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Etheridge says the business is contacting its insurance company and will try to rebuild.

“We just want to rebuild and get back to serving our community and doing what we love to do.”

Lydia Brent, who visited the coffee shop four times a week prior to the fire, called the café her “home away from home.”

“I just feel terrible for the family that runs it,” she said. “It’s their business, their life.”


Black Walnut has another location in London, located at 724 Richmond St. That location remains open.

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As of early Sunday, Craig Street remains closed and will likely remain closed for the rest of the day. Fire crews ask that the public avoid the area.

Loveland said it’s too early to say whether the fire is deemed suspicious.

Etheridge said she was told by a fire chief that “it looks like (the fire) started outside. It wasn’t an internal issue with an oven or anything like that.”

The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

— with files from 980 CFPL’s Scott Monich, Sawyer Bogdan, and Jess Brady.


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