Phoenix rising on Bank Street

By Ben Bulmer

The building at the corner of Bank and Fifth, went up in smoke on Thursday, April 9 after an explosion at 11 p.m. Businesses affected were Mac’s Milk, Pizza Hut, The Beaver’s Mug, Silver Scissors, Encino Taco and Brown’s Cleaners. Photo: Jay Smith
The building at the corner of Bank and Fifth, went up in smoke on Thursday, April 9 after an explosion at 11 p.m. Businesses affected were Mac’s Milk, Pizza Hut, The Beaver’s Mug, Silver Scissors, Encino Taco and Brown’s Cleaners. Photo: Jay Smith

“None of this has stopped us, not even for a heartbeat,” says Eli Saikely, whose 36-year-old Bank Street business, Silver Scissors, was destroyed in the fire that ripped the commercial block of Bank and Fifth Avenue the night of April 9. When police deemed the fire arson, Saikely said he felt very angry about the situation. Three weeks and a day after the fire (“You can tell we’re counting,” says Saikely), that anger has turned into a more positive emotion.

“We don’t like the fact that arson brought down seven existing stores and a couple of dozen jobs here and there, and disabled people from their work place and their livelihood,” says Saikely, “but we’re not dwelling, we’re going forward. The anger has turned into more of a positive emotion, we’ve taken that anger and were spending it towards more energetic things.”

Saikely’s son Sebastian made local headlines by donating $1,000 to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, even though he himself lost his brand new business to the same fire. Sebastian’s business, Encino Taco Shop, had promised to donate 10 cents for every taco sold. Barely a month after opening and with no business standing, Sebastian stuck to his word. Saikley says he’s still continuing with his obligations. “On Sunday (April 26) we did our fifth annual cut-a-thon at Algonquin College and raised thousands of dollars,” says Saikley.

Saikley is temporarily running his hair salon out of the Water Salon Spa on Riverside Drive, and has maintained the majority of his clients, whom he describes as “amazing, amazing, amazing support.”

“The majority have followed us, and for that we thank the Glebe and all our customers in Ottawa,” says Saikley.

The plan now is to get back to a Bank Street location, says Saikley. Hopefully a building permit will be expedited because of the fire, and then it’s just a case of getting a plumber, an electrician and a paint job and 30 days later we’re in business, says Saikley. “It’s not that hard, the key is to find the right location.”

Robert Helal is co-owner of the destroyed building and is trying to be optimistic that it won’t be too long before things start moving along. “We’re local businessmen – we can relate to the businesses and what’s happened,” says Helal, “it’s been really hard on them.”

Because of the police investigation there’s been a delay in the insurance adjuster accessing the site, says Helal, and he hopes to know more next month. “We’re trying to be optimistic that it won’t take that long, and we will be sure to update the community as soon as we know what’s going on,” says Helal. As for Saikley, he says he’s still up and around. “We’re making an effort and using every trick up our sleeve to be back there tomorrow.”

Ben Bulmer, a recent arrival to the Glebe, is a regular writer of business articles for the Glebe Report

The fire and Browns Cleaners

By Hesam Azimi

Hesam Azimi, owner of Browns Cleaners in the Glebe.
Hesam Azimi, owner of Browns Cleaners in the Glebe.
It’s been over a month since the Glebe fire and I still can’t believe that in a matter of a few hours, everything I worked so hard for went up in flames. The experience has been very stressful and difficult to handle to say the least. Although we didn’t have direct fire damage, our store had major smoke and water damage. Thankfully, we were able to recover a significant portion of our customers’ garments and we’re working around the clock to restore the items.

As a small business owner, you can’t just stand on the sidelines when things don’t go as you expected. It’s important to me that all my customers are satisfied and that no one is left hanging. We’ve been going through our lists and making sure our customers are informed about the restoration process and the status of their items. Also, as a temporary solution, I’m offering free pickup and delivery service in the Glebe/downtown area. The system is very simple and a convenient alternative. Customers can call us at our store number 613-235-9776 or visit our Facebook page (Browns Cleaners Glebe) for progress updates or to schedule a pickup.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the community and our customers for all of their support. Many customers and members of the Glebe community have reached out and it lifts my heart to see such compassion at a time like this. I’ve always had customers walk through our doors to drop off orders, but now I’m delivering at their homes. I’m getting to know my customers like never before. They invite me inside; ask about what’s going on and my plans in the next while. The conversation tends to end with “we will continue to do business with you,” which brightens my day, makes this process an easier one to handle and makes me more optimistic about the future.

I look forward to seeing more of my customers in the weeks to come and hope to remain your preferred dry cleaner in the Glebe area. Thank you again for your support.

Hesam Azimi is the owner of Browns Cleaners Glebe, which suffered major smoke and water damage in the April 9 Glebe fire.

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