Brockville Indian restaurant still pressing to reopen after August kitchen fire
BROCKVILLE, ONT. -- While COVID has ravaged small businesses in the past year and a half, one Brockville restaurant is struggling even more, after a kitchen fire in mid-August has kept their doors closed.
"The damage was only in the kitchen with the equipment and the exhaust hood," said Tandoori Mint owner Guru Singh. "Nothing happened to the restaurant, and no harm to any person in that, so by the grace of God that was a good thing."
Singh says the last month has been a struggle, especially through the ongoing pandemic.
"We were trying to get on our feet with COVID going on for the previous year and this year, our sales were already down," he said.
The restaurant finally reopened to dine-in customers in July, but the fire has been a severe blow to the business.
"I was thinking maximum a couple of weeks you know, I would be back on my feet," sing said. "For a small business to be closed for a month is a big thing."
According to Singh, he's still waiting on a damage estimate from his insurance, and the bills haven't stopped.
"Hydro, Enbridge, water bill, phone bills, security, our insurances, rent. They remain the same even if I'm in a working condition or not," Singh said, adding monthly costs are in the $3,000 range.
On Saturday while talking with CTV News Ottawa, his cellphone continued to ring with eager customers ready to place orders.
"I have call forwarded the (restaurant) phone to my cellphone, so I am listening to each and every customer," Singh said. "I never miss a call, so I try to explain to them what is happening, this is what we are going through."
"They always wish me a good luck so that I can be open as soon as possible," he added.
With the bills racking up, Singh reached out to Downtown Brockville BIA, who has set up a GoFundMe page to help.
"All we're really asking for is that if you were going to Tandoori Mint and spend $50 for a meal, maybe you could just donate the $50 to kind of get Guru get back on his feet," said Sam Cowan, special events and communications coordinator for Downtown Brockville.
"For all of the restaurants honestly it's been brutal, it's been terrible. It's not been a good last year and a half," said Cowan. "I kind of just felt like we were getting back on track and then unfortunately there was a fire here which sets you back a whole bunch more steps."
The GoFundMe page has already raised more than $1,000 in the first 24 hours.
"I'd just like to thank the community so much, it's just been absolutely incredible," Cowan added.
Singh, grateful for the help, says the Brockville community welcomed them when the restaurant opened 11 years ago.
"They have accepted us with both open arms and they were always helpful," he said. "When we opened this place there was no Indian restaurant in town and probably nobody knows about Indian food also, but people tried it and they liked it and word of mouth has spread and it has spread good for us in last 10 years."
Still not willing to let the August fire burn him out, Singh says if things don't turn around soon, the only option will be to close for good.
"I have worked hard, 10 years with this place, and I will try to go until the end," he said.
"I can survive for another month if I'm not open, after that the things start getting worse for me then I have to make a choice," Singh said.
"I want to be open within end of this month or beginning of next month, I'm not going to give up like this but if it's not in my hand it wont be in my hand," he said.
To help donate to the Tandoori Mint, the GoFundMe page can be found here.