The early morning fire that destroyed a beloved Unionville restaurant has inspired an outpouring of support from friends, community members and the local restaurant industry.
Sovana Bistro experienced a devastating blaze early Friday morning, January 3, and almost immediately companies and individuals began to offer support for the business’ owners and 50 employees.
Harvest Seasonal Grill and Grain restaurant quickly offered to hire displaced waiters, cooks and other staff while Sovana Bistro rebuilds. Representatives from both posted the offers on TSD’s Facebook page Friday morning. And Centreville Cafe owner Susan Teiser offered to hire displaced workers for a variety of daytime shifts.
On Saturday evening, the Gables at Chadds Ford restaurant hosted most of the Sovana Bistro staff for drinks and dinner. “Of course they’re competition, but you’ve got to stick together in times like this,” said The Gable owner Ann Kolenick. “We wanted them to be able to relax and spend time together, and the best way I can help is to feed people and give them drinks,” she said. Kolenick also offered the use of their restaurant to Sovana in off-peak times as a gathering and meeting place and said they could offer temporary hirings as openings become available.
And this evening the Sterling Pig Brewery and the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association are hosting a fundraiser that will directly benefit employees. Already, over one hundred tickets have been sold.
“I have operated in so many restaurants in my career and seen many crises. Nothing compares to walking into ashes,” said Pennsylvania Restaurant Association Operations Manager Ben Fileccia. “But everybody loves [owners] Linda and Nick Farrell. They elevate hospitality in that area to another level, and they have a great staff. They take so much pride in what they do.”
The event takes place tonight at Sterling Pig Brewery’s Media location from 5 pm onwards, and organizers are requesting a $20 donation (cash or credit card) at the door.
The quick-turnaround fundraiser includes a silent auction that will feature gift cards from several area restaurants as well as tickets to a Flyers game and the Philly Chef Conference 2020. “It’s the best chef event in the country and the most sought-after tickets in Philadelphia. People come in from all over the world,” said Fileccia.\
A GoFundMe page has also been established with the goal of galvanizing the “outpouring of support from the community,” said organizer Krissy Flynn, who is a sister-in-law to Linda and Nick Farrell. Already 115 donors have contributed more than $14,500, which organizers say will be directed to the staff and “any gaps the insurance company doesn’t’ cover,” said Flynn, who launched the GoFundMe page with Catherine Hathaway, Linda Farrell’s sister.
Posting on the restaurant’s Facebook page, Sovana Bistro owner Nick Farrell said, “A new day dawns, and we are still so humbled by the immense expressions of support from our fans, vendors, fellow hospitality professionals, friends and family.”