The community of New Westminster is rallying around the owner of a popular downtown eatery destroyed by a fire.
A GoFundMe page has raised $4,606 as of this writing to help Heritage Grill owner Paul Minhas.
He has offered a live venue for arts and music for years, as well as a welcoming gathering spot for the LGBT community.
"At some point earlier in the day we were hopeful that the fire had been somewhat brought under control and that something might be salvageable," the Heritage Grill stated on its Facebook page. "Sadly throughout the day, events took a turn for the worse. We would have been celebrating our 16 year anniversary in just four days. Now there is nothing left.
"It has been an honor welcoming so many of you to 'The Grill' over the past almost 16 years," the message continued. "No doubt the monumental loss will hit home for us and the community in the coming days and weeks. We will take some time to process today’s events and now divide our focus on reopening Begbies in the next few days after we learn more details on the lifting of the COVID-19 circuit breaker."
The Heritage Grill was in a building that also housed the Magnetiq Nightclub, Happy Buddha Tattoo, and Pho Pho You. Nobody was injured in the blaze.
Back 2012, Minhas told the Straight that he initially wanted to open a restaurant on Commercial Drive but he couldn't find the right spot.
So instead, he bought an old Chinese eatery on Columbia Street in New West in 2005, renaming it the Heritage Grill.
His timing couldn't have been better. The mayor at that time, Wayne Wright, was about to embark on a major upgrade to the downtown core, adding the Anvil Centre and a waterfront park and promoting more multi-unit residential projects.
“I just can’t believe my eyes in the sense of what I’ve been seeing in the last four years,” Minhas said at the time. “The city is doing incredible things.”