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Businesses cope with aftermath of restaurant fire in Hastings

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Business owners in downtown Hastings are dealing with the aftermath of a restaurant that caught fire Sunday morning.

Police say the wood-fired oven was left on at Vinnies Wood Fired Saloon. It’s a practice workers at the restaurant typically do.

Three neighboring businesses on the block are now closed because of that fire.

“I’m glad everyone is OK. As long as everyone is fine. Everything else is just stuff,” Andrew Ortwein said.

Ortwein owns a building and a business that’s next door to Vinnies. He was out of town at his daughter’s dance competition when he received the early morning call about the fire.

“Police called about 4:30 a.m. and said Vinnies was on fire and they wanted to get into my unit to make sure it hadn’t spread,” he said. “I was an hour away so I just got in the car and got over here as quick as I could.”

Ortwein was one of many who went downtown to witness the fire for themselves. As he stood watching Vinnies go up in flames, the owner of the burning restaurant offered him support.

“He came up to me right away and he was apologizing profusely. But I’m like, ‘It’s not your fault. You didn’t start the fire,’” he said.

According to police, an officer was patrolling the area around 3:30 a.m. and noticed smoke and flames coming from the building. There were seven different fire departments that responded.

Greg Service owns Hastings Sweeper Shop, which is located across the street from Vinnies. He also lives above his business and woke up to the sirens from first responders vehicles.

“We heard all of the ruckus and came out to our living room and sat and watched it all,” Service said. “It was pretty intense.”

Nearby businesses connected to the restaurants didn’t receive any damage from the flames, though they did receive a significant amount of water and smoke.

“I originally thought it would be fine because the fire didn’t get to my building, so I thought, ‘Well, that’s good,’” Ortwein said. “But once I walked in there this morning it just knocks you out. You can’t sit in there and work or anything.”

Under the Sun, a tanning salon, has been at the downtown location for about five years. The owner, Kim Joppie, said she has received significant roof and water damage but it’s not enough to put her out of business.

She’s grateful her tanning beds were spared. There was a team of about 15 people that helped her cleanup hours after firefighters left the scene.

Joppie says this is her busiest time of the year. She sees about 120 customers daily and hopes to have a portion of her business back open to a few customers as early as Monday.

Evolve Beauty Lounge, another business impacted by the fire, just finished remodeling and hasn’t opened yet.

“It was repainted and decorated and then this happened and it was just nuked with the smoke so that was a huge setback,” Ortwein said.

Vinnies had just reopened in December after being closed for awhile. Service told News 8 that the restaurant owner had aspirations of expanding.

“He was going to put a deck out … for some outdoor seating or possibly go up on top of his roof,” Service said.

Residents we spoke to said they will miss the pizzas, pork sandwiches, drinks and most of all the family-friendly environment.

Business owners affected by the fire are waiting to hear back from their insurance companies about what’s next.

News 8 reached out to the owners of Vinnies for a comment but haven’t heard back.