January 5, Staff Report
Loyal customers, family and friends are turning to GoFundMe to raise money for the business owners whose stores were ravaged by a 5-alarm fire that ripped through 14 businesses at 77-49 Vleigh Place, between 77th Rd and 79th Ave, in Kew Gardens Hills last Friday night.
Despite the FDNY reportedly arriving three minutes after the initial 6:24 pm call, a shared rooftop caused the blaze to spread quickly into every business on the strip. A total of 200 firefighters and 40 units struggled for six hours to put out the blaze.
Now business owners and friends are calling on the public to help pick up the pieces.
“Kosher Moshe’s Pizza was my family’s only source of income, and we’ve dedicated our entire lives to building this business,” wrote Daniel Benjamin, owner of Kosher Moshe’s Pizza whose business was destroyed in the fire, on his GoFundMe campaign site.
“If we do get [an] insurance pay out, it will be minimal, and not nearly enough to help rebuild Kosher Moshe’s and sustain a moderate standard of living. All we want is to rebuild our business so we can continue to support the community and our family.”
Meanwhile some businesses had only been open a short time prior to the destruction and are now faced with an uncertain financial future.
“We moved into this location 2 months ago,” said Benjamin Kandinov, whose father owned the Eliyau Barber Shop on the strip. According to Kandinov, they did not have fire insurance, and said it was a complete loss. “As difficult as it is to ask for help, we are left with not too many other options,” reads his GoFundMe campaign site, which has a fundraising goal of $35,000.
King David Bakery, which was on the block for more than 20 years at 77-51 Vleigh Pl. also launched its own fundraising page, as did the Haims International grocery store that wrapped around the corner of 77th Rd. which set a fundraising goal of $125,000.
The lot which was home to these and more businesses has since been condemned by
the Department of Buildings, which would make rebuilding on the strip legally impossible in the near future.