Members of the Chapel Hill community — including small business owners, local government officials and organizations like the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership met on Sunday, July 23, to discuss employee support following a fire that occurred the day before at Mediterranean Deli, a popular restaurant on West Franklin Street.
On Saturday afternoon, the Chapel Hill Fire Department responded to a fire at Mediterranean Deli. The fire was contained to Mediterranean Deli, but smoke and water damage impacted nearby businesses DB Sutton, Moshi Moshi, Simply Audrey and Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
Stephanie Cobert, the director of marketing for Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said the meeting was an effort to speak with representatives from Mediterranean Deli and other affected businesses and hear what they need in the days to come.
“The situation is really fluid right now with a lot of moving parts, but everyone is communicating with each other so that we can let the public know, going forward, how they can help and what the situation is,” she said.
A GoFundMe — created for the financial support of Mediterranean Deli’s 81 employees — is being managed by the store’s staff and has already raised more than $150,000.
“I don’t think people realize how many people are in the laborship for a typical restaurant,” Scott Maitland, the proprietor of Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery, said. “My first thought was obviously to Jamil, but also to Jamil’s employees.”
Jamil Kadoura, who owns Mediterranean Deli, was the one who initially noticed the fire, called 911 and evacuated the building. Kadoura opened Mediterranean Deli in 1992 and has hosted benefit events for crisis relief, like this year’s fundraiser for those impacted by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
“Jamil at Med Deli has gone above and beyond to help the community,” Cobert said. “So it’s nice for the community to return the favor at a time when he and his staff really need it.”
Maitland said that the group will meet again later this week to discuss how local restaurants can help Mediterranean Deli continue operations and aid employees, and also discuss ways to speed up the permitting and inspection process for re-opening.