Serious Coffee has opened its doors in Port Alberni again, four months after a fire in an adjacent unit at the 10th Avenue Plaza forced closure of three storefronts.
“It’s nice to be back open,” owner Clay Edghill said Tuesday morning.
Although the fire didn’t reach his business, the coffee shop was heavily damaged by smoke. Edghill has new counters courtesy of Redlack’s Cabinet Works in Port Alberni, and a new espresso machine. A new fridge unit and ice machine are on the way, as are some “comfy chairs” that were damaged beyond repair, he said.
“There’s still stuff that needs to be done. Once I got approval from the health inspector we just wanted to get open,” he said. “Even though it’s a holiday week and we could have waited until (after) Easter, it’s been long enough already.”
One of Serious Coffee’s baristas will be returning, and another will help out until new staff can be trained. Because the fire happened so close to Christmas, Edghill and his wife Meloney were quick to issue their employees records of employment after the fire so they could collect employment insurance. One barista found a new job and won’t be back, Clay Edghill explained.
The other two units damaged in the fire are waiting for restoration work to be done before they can reopen.
George Toombs, whose Stag II Barbershop caught fire on Dec. 19, said he would like to rebuild and reopen the barbershop. He is waiting on work to be completed. “They did the wiring (last week), it’s all cleaned out,” Toombs said of his shop. The front windows are still covered on the barbershop and Wait You Chinese Restaurant on the other side of Stag II.
Toombs said he doesn’t know when restoration work will be finished, but he hopes to reopen for four days a week.
Stag II—and Toombs—has been at the strip mall on 10th Avenue for 27 years, he said, but operating continously in the Alberni Valley for 46 years.
Wait You Chinese Restaurant, which was on the other side of Stag II Barbers, is still waiting for reclamation work to be done before they can renovate, owner Ken Liang said. But he and co-owner Sherry Mo are definitely going to reopen once the renovation work is done.
“We will be open when they finish repairing,” Liang said.
The mall also has 17,000 square feet of space to rent out after Fairway Market closed its doors earlier this year.
The closure was unrelated to the fire. The property is listed for rent with Colliers Canada.