Update: The Passyunk Square Civic Association set up a support page. It contains contact info for those affected, as well as links to two GoFundMe pages. The association is also accepting direct donations for an assistance fund.
South Philly restaurants are stepping up to help feed neighbors displaced by the Thursday explosion and fire that destroyed several rowhomes.
Authorities haven’t yet pinpointed the cause of the blaze at the corner of 8th and Reed streets, which was the sixth large fire in Philadelphia this year. It started around 11:40 a.m. and raged for three hours before more than 100 firefighters brought it under control. Two people still missing on Friday morning are presumed dead, city officials said.
Multiple houses collapsed, and at least 60 people were evacuated. Others who live nearby had their utilities shut off as a cautionary measure, as speculation is that a gas leak may have caused the initial explosion that sparked the fire.
Realizing that families in the area won’t be able to cook without electricity or gas, nearby restaurant owners have started a drive to offer for free meals to those affected by the fire.
Mike Strauss of the famed Mike’s BBQ at 11th and Morris, a few blocks from the fire’s center, posted a note on Instagram showing a bunch of gift cards taped to his wall. He’s encouraging customers and others to donate funds for additional giveaways.
“I really just want to help these families,” he told Billy Penn. The “pit-to-plate” storefront opens at noon, when displaced neighbors will be able to take advantage, “No questions asked.”
The act of kindness has proven contagious. Strauss said he’ll also have on hand a set of gift cards from Pennsport brunch favorite The Dutch, thanks to owner Lee Styer.
At 11th and Passyunk, Adam Volk of Redcrest Fried Chicken is also moving to help families left in the cold. “I’m planning on putting together some gift cards for them,” Volk said. “That way they can use them at their convenience.”
On the east side of the fire location, just north of 7th and Carpenter, Passyunk Avenue Cup Cafe‘s owner Melody Brogan is welcoming folks to take advantage of warm drinks and soup.
All of the shop owners said they’d welcome additional donations so they can give out more free meals. If you want to help, see below for contact info.