A restaurant that was the “heart” of the South Main Street revival was among the five businesses gutted in a large fire Thursday morning in Mount Pleasant.

“I feel empty,” said Mike Zalman, owner of Slickity Jim’s Chat ‘N’ Chew, a restaurant that was among the businesses destroyed in the early morning three-alarm fire on Main Street at Broadway.

“It was one of the oldest businesses on new Main Street,” said Zalman, standing in a coffee shop across the street and watching as firefighters poured water onto the collapsed roof of his charred restaurant.

Also destroyed were an accounting office; Zocalo, a contemporary Mexican restaurant; and Kishu Island, a Japanese restaurant. Lugz Coffee Lounge was largely intact, but did suffer some fire and water damage. No one was injured.

“When I moved to Main Street, it wasn’t quite the community it is now. It’s been built up over the past 10 years and I think Slickity Jim’s provided a heart for the neighbourhood to build around.”

Assistant fire Chief Wade Pierlot said crews arrived on scene about 4 a.m. after a report of smoke in the 2500 block of Main Street.

Firefighters tried to battle the blaze unsuccessfully and decided to pull back, spraying water on the fire from above. Shortly thereafter the roof collapsed.

The fire was upgraded to a third alarm, bringing in additional crews, a total of about 40 firefighters. Police evacuated about 20 people from a four-storey apartment located next to Lugz. Capt. Gabe Roder said investigators believe the fire was not deliberately set and appeared accidental.

Zalman, who moved the restaurant into the neighbourhood about 10 years ago, said he has insurance and plans to reopen in the same area, his “stomping ground.”

“It’s not even really the money. It’s a big part of it, but it was 10 years of my life. Ten years of memories.”

Latest From ...