Fears pizza shop won’t survive

The fire melted power lines and created structural damage. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 250509_03

Michaela Meade

The operator of an Epping pizza shop is worried his business won’t survive a lengthy shut down, after a fire at a neighbouring milk bar damaged his store.

The High Street milk bar caught fire about 1.10am on August 27.

The blaze destroyed the shop and damaged neighbouring businesses Soprano’s Pizza, Stockdale & Leggo Epping and Chow Garden.

Police have charged three men over the blaze and a second fire at the milk bar a day earlier.

A 20-year-old Wollert man, a 19-year-old Thomastown man and a 47-year-old Thomastown man have been charged with multiple offences including criminal damage, burglary and theft.

They appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on August 28.

Soprano’s Pizza director Sam Cowan said his shop sustained structural damage in the blaze.

“[The] ceiling is burnt, roof has issues, all electrical fittings burnt,” he said.

“We had to shut down, as the building is not safe for our customers and staff.”

“We are worried. If we are closed for three to four months, [will] we be able to ever come back in these tough and competitive times?”

Mr Cowan said the community has been supportive of his business.

“We are very pleased to see our customers [have] supported us and kept us in their thoughts and they are very keen for us to bounce back,” he said.

“This has been a huge moral support to keep us going and working towards fixing the shop [as soon as possible].”

Stockdale & Leggo Epping and Chow Garden have also sustained damage from the blaze.

Chow Garden owner Wendy Jiang said her store rented a generator after wires that provide power to the restaurant melted.

Ms Jiang said keeping the business closed to wait for repairs was not an option, despite the generator’s high cost.

“My worry was… if we close the business for too long, we might lose customers,” she said.