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Neighborhood grapples with loss of beloved stores after fire rips through shopping center

Neighborhood grapples with loss of beloved stores after fire rips through shopping center
Updated: May. 5, 2018 at 3:51 PM EDT
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Despite the fire, the menu board and original wallpaper were relatively intact among the...
Despite the fire, the menu board and original wallpaper were relatively intact among the damage. (SOURCE: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The community is grappling with the loss of the decades-old Village Plaza Shopping Center in Wilmington after a three-alarm fire Wednesday night destroyed all five stores.

On Saturday, Everybody's Supermarket sat in ruins, now an unrecognizable pile of metal, wood, and plastic within the charred skeleton of a structure.

"We went there basically every day, because it's the closest store that was in the neighborhood," said Lilton Williams, who was walking by the storefront on Saturday.

The neighbors living nearby are now living in a food desert with no grocery store within walking distance.

"It was more convenient for people that don't have automobiles and things like that," said Williams. "Everybody is like, 'Wow, what do we do now?'"

The local charity Good Shepherd Center expanded its services after the supermarket fire.

Williams said he often spends time on weekends caring for older friends in the nearby neighborhood who need assistance buying food.

"You have guys in wheelchairs, handicapped, and they can't get out to get stuff. And I'm one of the people that try to help people in the community as much as I can," said Williams.

Besides the loss of Everybody's Supermarket, the community nearby is also down a barbershop, church, beauty supply shop, and breakfast and lunch diner.

"We had the breakfast place here, Spiro's, that everybody ate at basically every morning. Sometimes at lunchtime, they serve good food," said Williams.

The former co-owner of Spiro's Breakfast and Lunch House, Diane Katerelos, and her granddaughter Sydney stopped by the property on Saturday.

"This was definitely a second home," Katerelos remembers, having co-owned the restaurant for 35 years. The shop was just sold to a new owner one month ago.

"Entire families used to come here," she recalls, peering at the damage behind yellow caution tape.

Despite the fire, the menu board and original wallpaper were relatively intact among the damage.

Sydney remembers spending almost every weekend until the age of 12 at the restaurant.

"Basically I was raised in the restaurant in weekends," said Sydney. "I used to come in here for breakfast – pancakes, bacon, grits with cheese."

"It was just so alive in the there, Everybody was just so real," Sydney remembers.

Williams hopes that the community can rally together to rebuild the stores they need after the fire.

"Now all of this has been taken away overnight. It's been very hard on the community," said Williams. "They're in hopes that all of this stuff will be rebuilt as fast as possible."

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