WESTBROOK, Maine — At 511 Main St. in Westbrook, a building with a lot of promise for the future stands charred. In the early morning hours of Friday, March 31, a fire broke out there, damaging the roof and walls and destroying some equipment stored inside. That equipment belonged to couple Anna and Christian Deluca.
The Delucas own Brea Lu Cafe. About a decade ago, they lost their location in Portland to a fire and moved to Westbrook. Recently, they decided they wanted to relocate to a larger space and found the building at 511 Maine St. They bought new bathroom stall doors, a hood system, and a walk-in cooler and stored them in the new location. The fire ruined them all.
Joe Salisbury, a retired local firefighter, and owner of The Daily Grind, said he comes to work around 4:30 a.m. every day. He said he remembered seeing crews leaving that morning and called his former colleagues to find out what was happening. He said he went to high school with Christian.
"I immediately just started thinking about what we could do," Salisbury said.
Salisbury came up with the idea of putting on a fundraiser for the Delucas. The goal is to raise money to support the Brea Lu Cafe employees, since the new location likely won't be up and running for a while longer.
"We’re just hoping to raise enough money to keep his employees employed," Salisbury said, noting how hard it has been to find workers as of late. "Originally, they were going to be out for maybe a month. Now, it’s going to look like two or three months down the road."
Dave and Danae Mallari, owners of The Sinful Kitchen, reached out to Salisbury, asking if they could help. Through some collaboration, they decided to put on a pig roast and silent auction, complete with kid-friendly and vegan options.
"I actually catered [Anna and Christian's] post-wedding brunch with a pig roast," Dave said, remembering how he first became friendly with the couple. "It’s a great way to feed a lot of people economically, to raise more money.”
Dave and Danae have a pretty big reason to want to give back. About a year and a half ago, they also experienced a fire, and the Delucas were the first people to help, putting on a fundraiser that brought in more than $10,000.
"I think it’s just important to take care of each other," Danae said.
Anna said she agrees, adding she and her husband could never see doing business anywhere else.
"The Westbrook community is a very different community where it’s so tight-knit," Anna said. "Everybody knows everybody, and everybody is there to help everybody else when it’s time to rally."
Salisbury said he's planning to announce the date and time of the fundraiser on his social media pages on Thursday, April 6. Dave said quite a few local businesses have already donated silent auction items like gift cards, but they're still looking for more contributions.
The cause of this fire is under investigation.