A fire that tore through a Washington Heights restaurant overnight was determined to be an act of arson, according to law enforcement officials.
Police said officers and firefighters responded to Joys Seafood and Steak Market in the 9500 block of South Halsted Street just before 12:20 a.m. Sunday and discovered fire impacting the restaurant.
While the restaurant was closed and no injuries were reported, the building suffered extensive damage.
“I cannot tell you how this feels when you are working hard. You doing your business, remodeling the store. Put a lot of money invested in this location. I spent like $160,000,” Iyad Hamayel said.
Hamayel is the co-owner of Joys Seafood and Steak Market. He anticipates the restaurant will be closed for an extended period of time.
Even if it is not his only business, he would be losing revenue while his doors are closed.
“They’re saying we’re going to be closed for a while,” he said.
In addition to extensive fire damage, the building also experienced up to two inches of flooding in some areas with debris from the fire scattered across the restaurant.
The surrounding businesses were also damaged, including ABC 95th located just next door.
“We sell clothing, a lot of clothing in our store, so obviously all of that was smoked out. I don’t know, it’s going to be rough,” owner Waseem Doleh said.
According to police, ABC 95th suffered damage last week as well when a U-HAUL truck drove into the building. Police told NBC 5 that there is no evidence that the incidents are connected.
While officials continue to investigate, Doleh and Hamayel are picking up the pieces.
“It’s going to be a while for me to open up,” Doleh said.
As for Hamayel, he told NBC 5 he is apprehensive of reopening.
“I want to see what the reason is for somebody doing it. I am not going to open. I am not going to take a risk again,” Hamayel said.
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