In 2013, there was a massive fire in my neighbourhood that took out several businesses. Among them was a Vietnamese restaurant that I frequented. It was the only place I could get a bowl of pho within walking distance. The next closest Vietnamese restaurant was probably a 25-30 minute walk, all uphill.

Before the fire, my local Vietnamese restaurant was probably open for about a year. It burned down and I held out hope that the owner would find some way to open up again, somewhere close by. I don’t know the details but they never did. Maybe they didn’t have insurance, maybe they didn’t want to be in the restaurant business anymore, it could have been anything and I don’t blame them for not being able to bounce back.

About four years went by before another Vietnamese restaurant opened up in the neighbourhood. This one was about a block further down than the old one. I was beyond excited to have them open their doors. I didn’t hesitate to visit as soon as I could. To my delight, the food was great, reasonably priced, and the lady who ran the establishment was friendly and engaging. The restaurant was conveniently close to one of the train stations, so on many nights when I was coming home from work, hungry and not sure what to do for dinner, it was an easy choice to pop in for a pleasant meal.

This weekend, this wonderful restaurant was destroyed by a devastating fire that also gutted several other businesses. Like many restaurants, I am sure they scrambled, adjusted, and pivoted as best they could to survive a pandemic where dine-in patrons weren’t allowed for months at a time and even where they were, people were vary of going to restaurants. I personally just had take-out from there just a few days ago. I got a bowl of pho and two of their awesome spring rolls. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in weeks.

The expectation is that this province was going to allow restaurants to have dine-in patrons starting tomorrow. This will be a huge development for all restaurants and coupled with dropping positive case numbers and increasingly vaccinated population, I am sure all restaurant owners are seeing the light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel. But to get this far, to work so hard to get this far, to overcome all the obstacles and challenges, to see the beginning of normal operations ahead, only to fall victim to a fire that they had no control over. It’s incredibly sad for all the businesses affected today.

I don’t know how of many of those business owners will bounce back from this fire. I hope they all have insurance. I hope they find a way to make it all work again.

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