CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — With students back on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus for the fall semester, a business devastated by a fire earlier this summer is set to get a big boost.
Last month, Mediterranean Deli, Bakery and Catering was significantly damaged in a large fire that impacted several businesses along West Franklin Street.
While the last four weeks have been understandably challenging for owner Jamil Kadoura, community support has helped push him through. Especially as signs showing support continue popping up on the restaurant’s windows.
“It’s really unique how a bad thing can also bring good things. This is family. I leave here one day, I retire, but there will always be my family,” he said.
Throughout this difficult time, Kadoura has stressed his priority is to continue providing for his dozens of employees.
“These are my family. The average employee, I told you earlier, 13 years. I’ve got an employee 16 years, 12, 10.”
About a week after the fire, the business was able to resume catering, something that allowed staff to return to work. Community members also raised money to help support them while they were out of work.
But the start of UNC’s fall semester should also provide a boost, with students getting the chance to get food from Med Deli at three different locations on-campus.
“For the people to keep their catering with us and book more, that made me feel like, okay, my employees are safe. Having campus open, I knew my employees are going to be safe,” Kadoura said.
The owner says seeing food roll out again has been therapeutic, as work to rebuild the business along West Franklin Street continues. The exterior is no longer flanked by yellow caution tape, and the inside is showing signs of improvement as crews work to clear charred debris.
With things moving forward, Kadoura is thinking big about the future.
“I am going to have my dream kitchen here. I promise you I will.”
While Monday marks the beginning of the semester and the reopening of locations on UNC’s campus, Kadoura says it’s also a chance for him to meet with planners to map out what the business will look like once work is done to rebuild.
He told CBS 17 he wasn’t sure how much sleep he’d get Sunday night because of his excitement.
In the meantime, the business is set to provide a limited dine-in menu at a temporary location in the next month or so.