More than three months after a fire nearly destroyed one of North Miami’s most popular coffee shops, the store celebrated a grand reopening with food, music and plenty of caffeinated customers.
The reopening last Friday at Alaska Coffee Roasting Co., 13130 Biscayne Blvd., drew dozens of attendees.
“I was kinda surprised by the amount of food they were giving away. I think the only thing we had to buy was coffee,” said resident Carmella Fermin.
The company was able to rebuild primarily due to a grant of nearly $200,000 from the North Miami community redevelopment agency that was approved in May.
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The agency has a threshold of $100,000 for rehabilitation grants, but city leaders felt that the coffee shop was deserving of a grant above that limit as it provides local jobs and participates in various community activities.
“This is somebody we know who has a history in the community and supports the city. I thought it was totally appropriate to reach back out,” said Scott Galvin, the vice mayor.
About 16 of the company’s 22 employees are North Miami residents, and the shop has donated to community bike rides, coffee with the cops and other city events.
The company also works closely with students at nearby Johnson & Wales University. The shop, which opened in 2011, also participated in a Netflix promotion for last year’s “Gilmore Girls” reboot, transforming into Luke’s Diner — the coffee shop of choice for the show’s main characters.
“We wanted to give back, so we did, and we wanted to thank the North Miami [community redevelopment agency] for all they did,” said the shop’s managing partner, Karen Tuvia. “The support was great. The community was there throughout the whole thing. They were visiting to make sure we were coming back.”
Tuvia said the April 1 fire was caused by kitchen towels that caught fire. The fire damaged the shop’s electrical fixtures, air-conditioning units, plumbing, some of the walls and much of the building’s interior. She said the fire department’s response was slightly delayed because of a mix-up with the address, which allowed the blaze to spread.
In Tuvia’s application she said that the company’s insurance policy only went up to $300,000 with another $50,000 for replacing contents. She said the shop didn’t have enough money to cover costs without the agency’s assistance. The $199,000 grant helped the shop with repairs and replacement of equipment.
“Our customers were surprised that we did it so fast. We are back and going strong,” Tuvia said.