Community donates thousands to rebuild long-time soul food restaurant

Local News
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –  A historic Buffalo restaurant destroyed by fire is getting help from the “city of good neighbors.”  A kitchen fire destroyed Gigi’s Soul Food Restaurant on East Ferry Street.

Various donations came in following the fire. True Bethel Baptist Church presented a check for $17 thousand dollars.

Gigi’s Owner, Blondine Harvin was overcome with emotion as she is handed a big check. She promises to bring the restaurant back. The soul food staple of the east side since 1960, suffered major damage after an early morning fire in November.

Harvin says she was devastated and wouldn’t be able to keep going without God.

She said, “He’s given me the strength to do this for 55 years and I’m hoping he’ll give me the strength to keep on doing it.”

The restaurant is boarded up and a closed due to fire sign still hangs in the window but the owners say they have official plans to rebuild thanks to the donations they received. Harvin says everything needs to be replaced.

Now all she needs is time. She said, “They’re trying to get it cleaned up, and it’s just going to take a while.”

Harvin and her family say the support from the community has been overwhelming.50 churches, countless community leaders and donations filed in on the “Go- Fund Me” page from across the country.

Family member Rochester Davis said, “I look at it like the phoenix rising from the ashes. We are going to open up and do what we’ve been doing for the last 55 years, serving the community.”

Councilman and community leader Pastor Darius Pridgen wanted to raise $12 thousand dollars for the employees who are now out of a job. The rest of the money raised will go to harvin to use for rebuilding.

He said, “Gigi’s is an institution in the city of Buffalo, and has been an inspiration for so many others so who wanted to open up a business and saw what they were able to do as a family.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and officials estimate damage to the building and contents will surpass $150,000. The restaurant is still accepting donations, you can mail checks to True Bethel Baptist Church, but they should be made out to Gigi’s Restaurant.

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