Edmonds Chamber presents grant to Plum Tree Plaza fire victim

From left: Greg Urban (Edmonds Chamber), Janelle Cass (Chamber board member), Yusuf Hansia (Chamber Foundation board member), Erica Sugg (Edmonds Chamber), Anne Penny (Chamber Foundation board member), Bufeng Gao (holding check – Qin – owner), Ralph Sanders (Chamber board member), Yanlin Li (Qin), Joanna Tien (Qin), Will Chen (Chamber board member), Robert Ha, Nancy Ekrem (Chamber board member), Lillyan Hendershot (Chamber Foundation president), Adrienne Fraley-Monillas (Chamber board member, Edmonds City Councilmember) (Photo courtesy Edmonds Chamber of Commerce)

In a short Thursday morning ceremony, representatives of the Edmonds Chamber and Edmonds Chamber Foundation were joined by local business owners and others to present a $1,000 check from the Chamber Foundation’s WISH Fund to Qin Xi’an Noodles restaurant owner Buteng Gao. Qin was reduced to ashes by the devasting Saturday early morning fire that left the restaurant and 13 of its Plum Tree Plaza business neighbors in various states of ruin from fire, smoke and water damage.

Qin Xi’an Noodles restaurant was among the most heavily damaged in the early morning September 11 fire at Plum Tree Plaza on Highway 99.

While the cause of the three-alarm fire is being investigated – Edmonds police have called it an arson – and insurance companies have begun their investigations, to the casual observer there isn’t much left of several businesses.

The interior of the Qin Xi’an Noodles restaurant was left a mass of charred, twisted rubble in the wake of Saturday morning’s fire.

The devastation in Qin is particularly shocking. Tables, chairs, and restaurant equipment have been reduced to piles of charred rubble, and parts of the roof have caved in allowing scattered rays of sunlight to illuminate the blackened interior.

For years Qin has been serving up homestyle pot stickers, wontons, noodles, buns and more in the little family-run restaurant tucked into the Plum Tree Plaza on Highway 99 just north of Ranch 99 Market (see My Edmonds News’ 2019 restaurant profile here). But it will be a while before they can resume.

Qin restaurant before the fire. (My Edmonds News file photo)

“We’re thinking six months to a year before we can reopen,” said Yanlin Li, son of the owner. “It’s really too early to tell. We’re still in shock.”

“We realize that the WISH Fund check we present today can’t begin to meet the need,” said Chamber President and CEO Greg Urban. “But it’s a start and can help fill the gap until insurance payments are sorted out.”

“The Edmonds Chamber Foundation is saddened to see so many great local businesses hurt by this tragic fire,” said Lillyan Hendershot, president of the Edmonds Chamber Foundation board. “We hope this $1,000 grant will assist Qin Xi’an Noodles in starting to rebuild and recover from this tragedy.”

Ironically, the Mark Choi insurance agency – with whom Qin owner Bufeng Gao arranged business insurance for her restaurant – was also heavily affected by the fire.

In 2019, the Edmonds Chamber Foundation created the WISH Fund (When Inconvenient Stuff Happens) to help small businesses get back on their feet after unexpected disaster. Grants of up to $1,000 are awarded to local businesses or organizations that have experienced damage due to vandalism, burglary, fire, wind, flooding, etc., to help cover the cost of repairs.

Urban went on to explain that the WISH Fund is supported by fundraising activities and donations to the Chamber Foundation, and that COVID has had a chilling effect on both of these. In addition, almost $10,000 has been distributed over the past year to businesses heavily hit by COVID, and the combination of paying out to businesses in need and little money coming in has left the WISH Fund all but running on empty.

Edmonds Chamber Board member Will Chen with Qin owner Buteng Gao.

“The Edmonds Chamber Foundation has capacity to provide three WISH Fund grants immediately, but our hope is to provide grants to all fourteen businesses in the Plum Tree Plaza.” said Urban. “We desperately need the public’s assistance to raise more funds. Donations to the Edmonds Chamber Foundation, a 501c3 organization, are tax deductible and will assist in providing WISH Fund grants to these business owners.”

Make your tax-deducible donation to the WISH Fund at this link.

“It will be a while before we as a community can support Qin and the other Plum Tree Plaza businesses by patronizing them,” added Urban. “Your donations are critical to keeping the WISH Fund doing its job — helping our local businesses get back on their feet after a disaster.”

Additionally, a group of Qin employees and friends have set up a GoFundMe account to assist Qin during this time.  Donations may be made here.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

 

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