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After a fire, this North Miami coffee shop is rebuilding with the city’s help

Co-owner Michael Gesser roasts coffee at Alaska Coffee Roasting Co.
Co-owner Michael Gesser roasts coffee at Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. MIAMI HERALD FILE 2012

After a fire severely damaged a popular North Miami coffee shop, the city’s redevelopment agency voted to pitch in nearly $200,000 to help the shop’s owners rebuild.

North Miami’s City Council, acting as the community redevelopment agency board, approved a $199,000 grant last month to help the Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. with repairs and replacement of equipment.

The shop had a fire on April 1, caused by kitchen towels catching fire, according to the shop’s managing partner, Karen Tuvia. 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 the costs without the agency’s assistance.

Alaska Damage
Damage at Alaska Coffee Roasting Company in North Miami after a fire last month. The city’s community redevelopment agency approved a grant to help the shop with repairs. Alaska Coffee Roasting Co.

Last month’s approval exceeded the usual limit of $80,000 for grants, but members of the board felt the investment was necessary. They were also motivated by the shop’s commitment to hiring North Miami residents — 16 of the 22 employees are city residents.

“Those 16 folks, we definitely want them to come back to work as soon as possible if we’re going to make an investment like this,” Councilman Alix Desulme said at the April meeting.

The shop has operated in the city since 2011, at 13130 Biscayne Blvd. Since the grant was approved, it is about “90 percent” done with the repairs and replacements.

“It’s amazing in 45 days that we’ve accomplished what we’ve accomplished,” Tuvia said.

She said she’s grateful for the community’s support after the shop has donated to community bike rides, coffee with the cops and other city events. The company also works closely with students at the nearby Johnson & Wales University.

“We’ve always been there for the city, and now the city’s there for us,” Tuvia said.

Unfortunately, due to a kitchen fire in the middle of the night, we will be closed until further notice as we repair. Thank you to all of our amazing customers! See you guys soon.

Posted by Alaska Coffee Roasting of Miami on Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tuvia isn’t sure when the shop will reopen but she knows the demand for the store’s lattes, pastries and signature pizzas is growing every day.

“Our customers have been awesome. They keep calling and asking ‘How much longer, how much longer?’ ” Tuvia said.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3

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