SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – It’s been almost two weeks since what was supposed to be the Sugar Alley Apartments went up in flames, and the aftermath of that fire is still impacting people in nearby apartments and businesses.
While some have been able to keep their doors open, others still have a “closed” sign plastered on their windows — like Mochinut Utah, a newly opened restaurant specializing in mochi donuts, Korean hot dogs and Boba teas right on Highland Drive, steps away from where the blaze happened.
Megan Hammerschmidt, who co-owns the restaurant with her mom, says, “I’ve gone back twice just to see what’s going on and we had a business meeting with the fire department.”
She says their Sugar House location has been open since June.
For Mochinut, like any other business, being closed for several weeks comes with its consequences. “I’m scared because I know we have just fridges full of food that needs to get thrown out, but I also don’t want to have employees in there until it’s safe,” says Hammerschmidt.
At this point, it’s unclear when that will be — but even when they are given the green light to safely reopen, she has other concerns, like people being able to safely get to their restaurant.
“If they put a boardwalk, however they’re going to do it, we rely pretty heavily on walking traffic, and I’m concerned if people will be able to safely access our restaurant” explains Hammerschmidt.
Even before the fire, Hammerschmidt says they’ve struggled during the ongoing construction and have had potential customers claim they weren’t able to find them. “It’s like being back to square one,” she says.
Ironically, their Park City location opened the same week as their Salt Lake City location had to close, due to the proximity of the fire.
Hammerschmidt says they’ve been able to still pay their short staff of employees, but it’s been tough without knowing when they’ll be able to reopen their flagship shop. “One of our main priorities is keeping our employees, and they all have bills. It was just the first, so rent came up,” Hammerschmidt says.
In a recent update from the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development, it’s likely that staging of heavy demolition equipment will keep Highland Drive closed through next week. More demolition is set to begin on Tuesday, and the city officials say they will closely monitor conditions to ensure affected businesses can safely reopen — but at this point, it’s unclear when that will be.
Salt Lake City fire officials say demolition efforts may be ongoing as they continue to assess damage.
For Hammerschmidt, she’s focused on getting their Park City staff up to speed, but hopes customers will still support their Sugar House location when the time comes.
“That’s what I’m most worried about is we’re going to reopen and it’s going to be a ghost town,” says Hammerschmidt.
She says that while having to keep doors closed at this time, she encourages people who do want to support to give their Park City location a try.