Fire heavily damaged Gigi’s, the popular East Ferry Street soul food restaurant, early Saturday morning.
The fire, reported shortly before 1 a.m. at 257 E. Ferry, caused an estimated at $150,000, according to fire investigators.
As word of the blaze began to spread throughout the community, residents living nearby gathered at the burnt-out structure to mourn the loss of a landmark. Workers, too, came to see what happened.
Owner Blondine Harvin arrived midmorning after spending the night without sleep.
Harvin had tears in her eyes as she stood in silence looking at the fire-damaged building. She devoted much of her 77 years of life to build the restaurant that had become a landmark for area residents.
“We’ve fed a lot of people since 1960,” she said. “Right at this minute, I have no feelings whatsoever. I’m just like numb. I haven’t slept.”
Bruce Betton and his family have been coming to Gigi’s for years. But on Saturday morning, when Betton arrived at Gigi’s to have breakfast with his girlfriend, he found the restaurant boarded up.
“I’ve been coming to Gigi’s since I was a kid – 10 or 11 years old,” said Betton, 49. “Our family from Niagara Falls would come over here from Niagara Falls after church on Sunday.
“So I was just here to get me and my girlfriend a quick breakfast, and we saw no glass in the windows. Wow.”
While the exterior part of the building suffered less-visible damage, the interior furnishings, kitchen equipment and breakfast counter were destroyed, workers said.
Fire investigators remained until after noon.
On Common Council member Darius Pridgen’s Facebook page, he wrote: “Gigi’s will rise again, this community will see to it. Buffalo loves Gigi’s, Matties and Miss Goodies, it is in these places that ‘community court’ is held and friends meet up.
“Many people do not know the amount of single elderly males who depend on these establishments for their daily meals. I was informed that Gigi’s has suffered a devastating fire but trust me the lady will rise again!”
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
No injuries were reported.