Oasis Cafe owner worries for future of his Ethiopian restaurant after SF fire: ‘We just need help’

Photo of Susana Guerrero
The San Francisco Fire Department continued its cleanup of 1604 McAllister St., after a three-alarm fire broke out on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

The San Francisco Fire Department continued its cleanup of 1604 McAllister St., after a three-alarm fire broke out on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

Charles Russo/SFGATE

Taddesse Haile is trying to pick up the pieces after a devastating fire on Tuesday badly damaged his Ethiopian restaurant, Oasis Cafe.

On Thursday afternoon, Haile told SFGATE that he was sorting through items and inspecting the equipment at his restaurant at 901 Divisadero St. in San Francisco to see what can be salvaged. He’s worried about when he’ll be able to safely reopen Oasis Cafe.  

“My place was not damaged directly by the fire, but water flooded my space,” Haile said. “This kind of situation takes months or years [to fix], and I don’t know what I’m going to do. Even if I find a new place it’ll take time.”

Members of the San Francisco Fire Department are seen responding to a three-alarm fire at 1604 McAllister St., at the intersection of Divisadero, on Aug. 23, 2022. Oasis Cafe is located on the ground floor level of the building. 

Members of the San Francisco Fire Department are seen responding to a three-alarm fire at 1604 McAllister St., at the intersection of Divisadero, on Aug. 23, 2022. Oasis Cafe is located on the ground floor level of the building. 

Charles Russo/SFGATE

About 100 firefighters battled flames at the corner building located at McAllister and Divisadero on Tuesday afternoon. At the time, Haile was shopping for business supplies when he got the unexpected call about the blaze. When he arrived, the fire was still active, and he said that firefighters didn’t allow him to enter his restaurant. The fire also displaced 13 residents who lived in the apartments and damaged neighboring business, Kava Lounge, which was located on street level. SFGATE reached out to Kava Lounge for comment but didn’t hear back by publication time.  

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents District 5, told SFGATE that he spoke with Haile earlier this week and said that he would get in touch with the Office of Economic & Workforce Development “to make sure their Office of Small Business connects with the businesses to offer support and assistance.” According to Haile, the city hasn’t reached out to him yet. He’s unsure what steps he needs to take, which is adding to the stress. Haile said he expects a follow-up call from Preston.

A meal served at Oasis Cafe, located at 901 Divisadero St. in San Francisco. The Ethiopian restaurant was damaged in a three-alarm fire on Aug. 23, 2022. 

A meal served at Oasis Cafe, located at 901 Divisadero St. in San Francisco. The Ethiopian restaurant was damaged in a three-alarm fire on Aug. 23, 2022. 

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Haile added that he doesn’t know how much the damages will cost him as he awaits a call from his insurance company, but he believes it’s in the ballpark of $300,00 to $500,000 — not including the perishable items at his store that will likely need to get tossed without a functioning refrigerator. A GoFundMe page has been set up on behalf of Haile's restaurant with a goal of $50,000. As of Friday morning, about $2,500 have been raised. 

“We just need help,” Haile said. “The main thing is that I restart my business as soon as possible. I need something to support my family.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated at 10:45 a.m., August 26, to include a link to a fundraiser for Oasis Cafe.

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