All that's left of Georgis Catering is a burned out shell. To the right, is mom and Dad's Deli, which suffered smoke and water damage. (Photo by Carol McGowan)
Georgis Catering owner vows to rebuild after fire
By Bob Bong
Georgis Catering owner Buz Georgis is maintaining an upbeat outlook despite the destruction of his business in an early-morning fire Friday at 63rd Place and Central Avenue in Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood.
“It’s been a pretty crazy week,” he said Monday. “But we are moving forward and we plan on being somewhere. We are definitely coming back.”
He said he would have to wait on the insurance company before determining whether he would rebuild in Clearing or at a new location.
A burned-out shell is all that is left of his thriving catering business, which has been operating in Chicago since 1946.
The building was a total loss in the fire, which firefighters first responded to around 3:30 a.m. Friday morning. Firefighters stayed on the scene throughout Friday as the fire kept rekindling in the debris during the day.
One firefighter suffered minor injuries but nobody else was hurt.
“The fire happened after hours,” Georgis said. “Thank God, nobody was hurt.”
Georgis said he would keep paying his workers despite the fire.
“I’m going to keep paying them, so they don’t have to worry,” he said. “They are a great bunch and they have been with me for years.”
Georgis Catering clients range from local businesses such as Tootsie Roll, Stickney Township, and Southwest Airlines to Fortune 500 companies and Chicago sports teams.
The company has also been a longtime partner with Meals on Wheels delivering meals to seniors and shut-ins throughout the southwest suburbs including sites in Brookfield, Berwyn and Hometown.
Meals on Wheels said it was making arrangements with other vendors to supply meals in the wake of the fire.
Chicago fire investigators are trying to determine what caused the fire, which also caused significant water damage at the neighboring Mom and Dad’s Deli.
“We will hopefully be able to reopen by next week,” said deli owner Helen Chon on Monday. “That’s my best wish.”
She said the deli suffered severe water damage during the fight to extinguish the blaze.
“The water came through the chimney,” she said. “It destroyed my heating system. We have to throw out all the food we had in the store.”
She said she was cleaning up the damage and throwing away food while waiting for her insurance company.
“We have been here since 1991. That’s most of my life,” she said. “We will be reopening.”
She wanted to thank all of her customers who have been calling or stopping by to wish her good luck and a speedy recovery.
“So many customers have been calling,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”
Georgis seconded her feelings.
“The messages and calls wishing us good luck have been so heartwarming,” he said. “I can’t wait to rebuild.”
Chuck Dryden had an idea to help Mom and Dad’s recover on the Clearing, Garfield Ridge Watchdog Facebook page:
“They are very nice people and when they reopen, I suggest everybody goes in and buys a sandwich to help them recover lost revenue, I know I will do that.”
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