For many business owners, it might be difficult to see the positive side of a devastating fire.
But for Mohamed Souaiaia, a fire at his business, Butcher Shop Cafe and Select Gourmet Foods at 15022 Juanita Dr. N.E. in Kenmore, has shown him how great his neighbors and surrounding community are.
Since the fire, which occurred at 6:24 p.m. Sunday evening and did not have any injuries, Souaiaia said there have been many people stopping by his business with well wishes and offers of support.
“You can’t help (but think) that the world is good,” he said. “The world is beautiful.”
From a neighbor named Lisa who stayed with him longer than anyone following the fire, to a woman from a salon in Seattle’s University District offering him free services when he is done dealing with the aftermath of the fire, Souaiaia spoke to the Reporter at length about the kindness and support he has received from the community.
“(There is) nothing I can say that will ever match being part of a larger group,” he said.
Souaiaia also noted how wonderful the community has been on the Butcher Shop Cafe Facebook page, thanking people for their “good wishes and kind words.”
In the comments section below the post, a number of people posted their well wishes as well as hopes that the business will be able to rebuild. In response to these comments, he posted that he has the “best customers and neighbors in the world,” adding that “we’re still assessing the damage (from the fire) and will let you all know what the plan is going forward.”
While the business side of the fire — and the fact that the future is uncertain for his wholesale shop — is terrible, Souaiaia said this has paled in comparison to the support he has received.
“In the worst of times, the good will always be there,” he said. “We have the best customers. I believe we have the best neighbors. I do.”
He said while many people may question the direction the United States is going, this fire has shown him that Americans will rise to the occasion and he could not be prouder.
Souaiaia — whose business has been in the same Kenmore location since 1996 (he also previously had a small shop in Seattle) — is still dealing with his insurance and will know more about what the future holds after that process is complete.
“Obviously, I want to keep the place,” he said, adding that he is 100 percent “Kenmorian.” “I live here. I work here. I could’ve died here.”
Souaiaia lives within walking distance of his business.
Sunday’s fire started inside the shop’s meat smoker.
Souaiaia said he tried to suppress the fire with a fire extinguisher but there was too much smoke and a big haze had reached the back of the building. When he exited the building in the front, he said someone nearby had already called 911.
According to Wendy Booth, public information officer for the Northshore Fire Department, 13 units from Northshore, Bothell, Kirkland, Shoreline and Snohomish County responded to the call, with the first unit arriving at 6:29 p.m.
The fire was knocked down by 6:48 p.m., Booth said.
She said the investigation for the fire is still ongoing and as of the Reporter’s deadline, they had not received a report from King County, but the fire was not suspicious.
The butcher shop is about 1,800 square feet and Booth said, “The whole north side of the building is destroyed.”
While a good portion of the building was damaged, she said much of the shop’s inventory was in freezer truck trailers away from the building and remained safe from the fire.