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Community Offers Support to Main Street Businesses Damaged in Fire

Business owners in the Tommy’s Center complex were faced with their worst fear December 9. A fire in the building’s roof structure threatened the building, their businesses along with it. Fire Investigators determined the fire to be accidental, caused by a failed electrical component in outdoor lighting.

Tommy’s Center is home to five local businesses that have served our community for many years.  Cascade Chiropractic and Massage, Salon Focus, Nail Master Too, Villa Barber Shop, and Athens Pizza and Pasta. To many, the figurehead business is Athens Pizza and Pasta.

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Nail Master Too on East Main St, damaged by the December 9 fire | courtesy Nina Contoravdis

“The timeline is currently out of our control.”

“We are fine.  We will be back,” said Nina Contoravdis, wife of Athens Pizza and Pasta co-owner Bill Contoravdis. “The constraints affecting our return will largely be out of our control.”

According to Fire Investigators, the fire was confined in the roof structure with minimal damage to business spaces. The damage, however, reaches beyond the physical space. Businesses will not be able to reopen until the building’s structural damage is repaired. The extended closure means loss of income and, for most, laying off the few remaining employees the businesses have been able to retain.

With structural damage maintaining priority, there is an uncertain timeline as to when businesses will address their own restoration and repairs. Factors involving city code, contractor’s schedules, and permit requisition will play a major factor in the process.  “Our initial feeling is that it will be at least 4-6 months before we can reopen, but the timeline is currently out of our control,“ said Contoravdis.

Tommy’s Center Tenants

Cascade Chiropractic and Massage has found a temporary home at Auburn Chiropractic Clinic. A post on their Facebook page states their hours and phone number remain the same.

Salon Focus owner Sara Rahim confirmed they have not relocated.  There are currently no plans to move or find a temporary location. Those with questions or who would like additional information about continued services can contact the salon at (253)333-0863 or (206)582-8922.

Villa Barber Shop recently changed hands. Contoravdis shared the new owner had limited the shop’s hours before the fire due to COVID-19.

Contoravdis was not surprised her neighbors had already found or been offered temporary homes. “It shows the strength we have in our community among small businesses.”

The Auburn Examiner had no updated information on Nail Master Too at the time of publication.  We will update should we receive any additional or updated information.

Give Back to Athens!

While Contoravdis is confident in the mainstay restaurant’s return, the Contoravdis family worries about their employees’ wellbeing.  A GoFundMe dedicated to Athens Pizza and Pasta has been set up, helping ease some worry.  “With insurance taking care of the business end, we have [decided] to use the donated funds to help our employees during this time,” said Contoravdis. “We have a lot of family involved in Athens, and that bond extends to our employees as well.”

Contoravdis provided this GoFundMe link to the Auburn Examiner, confirming it is the restaurant’s verified campaign: Give Back to Athens! (click) At the time of publication, the Auburn community has raised $4,500.

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credit: Auburn Valley Barbershop (316  East Main St)

Auburn Valley Barbershop (316  East Main St) is hosting a fundraiser for Athens Pizza and Pasta Saturday, December 19 at 10:00 am. KC Deez BBQ will provide free appetizers. Like the money raised with the GoFundMe, all donations made on Saturday will be provided to the Athens Pizza and Pasta employees.

It is no surprise that Auburn Valley Barbershop’s owner, Randy, would host a fundraiser for the Athens Pizza family. The two small businesses partner together in community outreach, including the annual Free Thanksgiving Dinner at Athens. This year’s dinner, which Contoravdis was happy to report was a great success, also included another East Main St small business – Zola’s.  This year the community helped fund 540 to-go Thanksgiving dinners.

As they do after every Thanksgiving event, Athens Pizza and Pasta donates all proceeds exceeding the event’s cost to community programs. Donations were made to the Auburn Police Department’s Shop with a Cop, Valley Professional Firefighter’s Toys for Kids, and The Auburn Food Bank. The donations were delivered the day before the fire.

Now: Wait and See

Currently, the Contoravdis and Athens family are taking a wait and see approach.  Given the resounding plea from the community asking what they can do to help, the option of selling gift cards during the closure is being explored.  They will also continue to support small businesses in Auburn while adjusting to their change in daily routine.

What is certain is they will return to doing what they love.  They will return to serving the community that they love.  We just have to wait longer than 20-25 minutes this time around.

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