Businesses affected by Downtown Mall fire on the road to recovery

A recent IX Art Park benefit concert raised several hundred dollars that will be split among three businesses that were damaged during the June 29 fire on the Downtown Mall. Photo by Martyn Kyle A recent IX Art Park benefit concert raised several hundred dollars that will be split among three businesses that were damaged during the June 29 fire on the Downtown Mall. Photo by Martyn Kyle

The June 29 Downtown Mall fire that started in Ike’s Underground Vintage Clothing and Strange Cargo also has temporarily closed Miso Sweet Ramen + Donut Shop and Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar.

The Tea Bazaar suffered from “a fine layer of smoke dust over all of the restaurant including the office and hookah lounge,” says owner and manager Gwendolyn Hall. “Since the dust is highly corrosive we had to get all of our fridges and electronics cleaned in order to prevent further damage.”

Pending any unforeseen setbacks, the Tea Bazaar was planning to reopen Tuesday, July 12.

Miso Sweet, which opened last August, also had a considerable amount of smoke damage, most of which has been cleaned, according to owner Frank Paris. “We still have a few spots left to clean up and we hope to paint to help get rid of any remaining smells,” he says. “We are a new restaurant, so being closed during this time has hurt us quite a bit, as we really need to be open to continue building our customer base.”

He expects Miso Sweet will reopen July 18. “The major problem we may be facing is damage to our equipment,” says Paris. “Anything that is electrical and has copper coils, such as refrigerators and ice makers, could become damaged as the soot that has built up inside them can become corrosive and eat away at these units.”

Miso had to throw away nearly $4,000 in inventory. Fortunately, the restaurant has a good insurance plan, says Paris, but he still has to deal with customary delays with insurance adjusters. And the restaurant will no longer be able to participate in Restaurant Week (July 15-23).

Ike’s Underground, which sells antiques and other vintage products, was hit the hardest because many items in the store are impossible to replace.

The owner of Ike’s, Ike Eichling, told CBS19 that it will take several months for the shop to reopen.

To support the stores, local artist Haylee Powell created a GoFundMe campaign out of “love, pure and simple,” she says. “These three businesses were a staple for me when I first started to visit Charlottesville. The Tea Bazaar, especially, was a safe haven for me; as an artist there is little other public spaces to go to in order to create artwork.”

The campaign’s funds will go to employees who are out of work, and Powell’s GoFundMe has raised $1,122 to date. A benefit concert for the three businesses was also held July 8 at IX Art Park. The concert raised around $500, to be split among the three businesses.

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