Lebanon Businessnews News

Gemmayzeh’s retailers
fixing and reopening doors
Repairs paid out-of-pocket
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Businesses in Gemmayzeh are busy repairing the damages. Some of them have already reopened even before completing restoration work. Some shops have received financial assistance in recognition of their excellence.

Saiid Al Malla owner of The Plub, one of the pubs in Gemmayzeh, said: “About half of our clients are back, anyway the pub is operating at 50 percent capacity as a safety measure required under the coronavirus pandemic.” The Plub invited clients through its Facebook page. It said: “It’s time to stand on our feet again! Let’s remember our good days, our loved ones, and our beautiful Beirut over a nice warm meal.” Malla said that they have not started yet the music and dance programs out of respect for the victims of the blast. Customers can instead watch TV for the time being. There is still some repair work to be completed. The losses are estimated at around $25,000. They include the central air conditioning system, the sound system, the glass façade, alcohol bottles, the roof and some furniture.

Another pub, DragonFly, which has also reopened, had suffered losses estimated at around $3,000. The losses consist of broken facades, glasses and bottles, according to owner Nassif Aramouni. “Just before the blast we were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We don’t expect the business to be back to normal soon due to the fallout of the blast, the worsening pandemic, and the deteriorating economic conditions,” he said.

Flour Bakery, which employs five people, is selling again manakish both in the shop and through its delivery service. The shop was 70 percent destroyed and reparation work is not completed yet, said its manager Guillaume Accari.

“We couldn’t close as the doors were destroyed, so we fixed our shop and resumed sales the second day of the explosion. The losses are estimated at $12,000 including the shop and the merchandise,” said Elie Chamoun, one of the owners of Maroun Chamoun Trading Co. The company sells electrical products such as cables and light bulbs. “We had to open as fast as we can as people in the neighborhood who are repairing their homes or shops need electrical parts,” he said.

The Army is collecting data for the assessment of the damages but some of the shop owners cannot wait for the financial assistance to come while others don’t expect it to come at all. Malla said: “I used my own resources to repair some of the damages in order to be able operate the pub. My friend, a carpenter, has offered his work free of charge.” He said that he does not expect any help to come soon from the State. “When I earn enough money from the business I will repair the false ceilings,” Malla said.

Le Chef, a traditional Lebanese restaurant created in 1967, has received “a very generous donation” from Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe, according to a fundraiser. Crowe said he made the donation in memory of late chef Anthony Bourdain, who featured Le Chef in one of his documentaries. "I wish you and Le Chef the best and hope things can be put back together soon," he said on Twitter. The $13,000 targeted by the fundraiser was reached within a day, including $5,000 from Crowe. Amanda Bailly, organizer of the fundraising campaign said: “We hit our target in less than 24 hours.” She said: “We will continue collecting donations and all additional funds will go toward supporting the staff until Le Chef can reopen.”
Date Posted: Aug 17, 2020
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