Mayor: Carnegie business community 'resilient'
The Carnegie business district has been a tight-knit community, but even more so in times of tragedy, leaders said.
As the community continues to mourn following a deadly March 2 apartment fire in the building with PaPa J's at the corner of East Main and Broadway streets that killed one man, some in the Carnegie business community are sharing stories of resilience following that tragic night.
On the night of the fire, Cheryl and Jim Riley, who own Riley's Pour House across the street from the building, lost power around 11:30 p.m. With a packed house filled with around 100 customers, Jim Riley told everyone to not worry about paying their bills and to go home.
While cleaning the next day in the dark, the Rileys were shocked to see customers little by little showing up to the restaurant, wanting to close out their tabs. With no bills to give them since the registers had been down all night, the customers still insisted and told the Rileys what they had ordered, paying for themselves and their friends.
“I was shocked,” Cheryl Riley says. “How many people do that?”
The day after the fire, Carnegie Mayor Stacie Riley, and niece of Jim and Cheryl Riley, was able to go into the heavily damaged building with the engineering team and says it was devastating and surreal.
“I was trapped in the flood back in 2004 and was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, and it brought back so many memories,” Stacie Riley says. “It's hard watching the business someone worked their entire life to build just be gone.”
The businesses and the community of Carnegie and surrounding areas are pouring in with help, donations, and support. Cheryl Riley works for Qorpak in Collier and the company has been collecting clothing and kitchen appliances to donate.
And, she and her husband are very much open to having some of the displaced workers come work in their kitchen until PaPa J's rebuilds.
At Carnegie Coffee Company, owner Ashley Cromer said she will be dedicating some of the tips given at Carnegie Coffee Company to help out as well since she has customers asking how they can help.
Cromer also said she's willing to hire some of the displaced employees if they are in need of work.
The businesses in the business district want to help out and are looking for ways to do so, she said.
“Carnegie has picked up the pieces before,” Stacie Riley said. “We are resilient.”
Sarah Sudar is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.