Since she was 16 years old, Kristi Richards dreamed of owning a small farm-to-table restaurant.
The Olympic skier saved for 10 years — ski sponsorship money and all — to open Solfeggio with her fiancé in Pemberton in 2013.
"It was not only just all my finances, but it was all my passion and that of all my family and friends who were involved with it," Richards said.
"It was filled with family heirlooms. It was everything to me, so to watch that burn was like, 'Wow. This is surreal. This is something I can't even understand.'"
In the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 12, a fire broke out in a cardboard bin behind the building that housed Solfeggio and health store Be Natural on Frontier Street in Pemberton.
The fire caused extensive damage to both businesses.
"All the contents have been damaged. All the food, all the equipment, everything has been damaged by fire, water and smoke," Richards said. "As far as our businesses are concerned, they're closed indefinitely until further notice."
Nada Shureih, owner of Be Natural, said she got the call from the fire department at about 3 a.m. that morning.
"It was definitely a bit of a shock," Shureih said.
"My family and I were planning to spend the winter in Mexico, and we were supposed to leave a few days after this happened, but we're here now dealing with this.
"Our plans have completely changed, but that's OK... No one was hurt, everybody is healthy. That's the stuff that really matters, right?"
The call came in around 12:30 a.m., and both Pemberton and Whistler firefighters responded, said Pemberton Fire Chief Robert Grossman.
"It took us quite awhile to get it out," Grossman said, adding that no cause has been determined and the fire is under investigation.
"By the time we were done it was 7 o' clock in the morning, and we had Whistler come in just in case it was going to extend."
The crews were able to contain the blaze to the two buildings, ensuring a bad situation didn't take a turn for the worse.
With the older structures in Pemberton's downtown, it's lucky the fire was attended to when it was, said Mayor Mike Richman.
"I'm sure it's quite flammable, and it's all connected right there in the centre, which is as downtown as it gets for us, so yeah, we got off lucky on that one," Richman said. "We're fortunate to have it called in quickly and our response from our fire department was great," he added, giving kudos to Pemberton and Whistler fire crews.
For now, both Solfeggio and Be Natural are working through the insurance process, trying to assess what will and won't be covered.
Solfeggio has set up shop in the kitchen at North Arm Farm on a temporary basis — at this point it's all about getting the next catering order out, Richards said.
"We'll figure it out kind of day-by-day and week-by-week, but so far we've been in there for four days now, and it's actually really cool," she said.
"The whole team loves it, and for a farm-to-table restaurant to be actually on the farm is amazing. It's the silver lining in it all, in a sense, with the ideals of the restaurant and the business, and now we're there.
"We're on the farm, which is really cute."
There are a lot of unanswered questions for both businesses at this point, but updates will be provided on their respective Facebook pages.
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