Local restaurateurs lose everything in Sandy Hill blaze

OTTAWA — Marhlee Gaudet and Cory Baird, the owners of Eldon’s Pantry in the Glebe, are used to challenges. Their business was only a year old when the pandemic hit. Last Friday afternoon, their Sandy Hill home caught fire and they lost all their belongings.

Gaudet says she was driving to work when her phone rang.

“Cory called me and said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ He told me that there was a fire and it all happened really quickly but they are safe,” Gaudet said. “Everything we had it’s just gone.”

Baird had just come home and decided to have a nap with their seven-month-old son Felix, when he was alerted to the fire by a neighbour. He jumped into action quickly, ensuring his son, their pets, and his mother in-law and her pet cat made it out safely.

“It was like, I see fire, so I need to get everyone out,” Baird said. “I’m just grateful we all got out.”

When Gaudet’s best friend heard what happened she decided she needed to do something to help so she set up a GoFundMe page and the outpouring of support for the family has been overwhelming. The campaign has raised nearly $13,000.

“It’s overwhelming,” Gaudet said. “It’s very interesting in a time like this because there are so many moments in COVID where we felt so apart. To see the support, to hear support, to read the words, not just the money, that’s truly a beautiful thing.”

While they focus on recovering from the fire, Eldon’s Pantry will be open only on weekends for the time being. The couple now plans to relocate to Carp, in Ottawa’s west end, to be closer to family and grow their business.

Gaudet says they had been thinking about a move for a while, but the fire has accelerated those plans.

“With the fire, the state of the business, and just the amount on our plates right now, it’s put things into perspective and we have to make a big change for our family.”  

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