Future uncertain for 3 stores destroyed by fire

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A month after a fire destroyed three popular businesses in Sunnyside, the owners are not sure they will be able to reopen even though they have been promised generous loans from the city.

The Dae Dong Korean restaurant, J. J. Gilligan’s sports bar and a corner fruit market were destroyed by a four-alarm fire early May 31. The cause of the fire, which ravaged half a block along Queens Boulevard and 46th Street, was still under investigation, FDNY spokesman James Spollen said.

When he appeared at the fire scene last month, Mayor Rudy Giuliani promised the owners financial help to reopen their businesses. The city’s Economic Development Corporation made good on the pledge by offering loans of up to $50,000 at below-market interest rates for each of the three businesses, to be available as soon as they locate new sites, EDC spokeswoman Janel Patterson said.

Plans to reopen were being thwarted more by location than by money, however.

“There’s really nothing the city can do until I actually find a place,” said Gilligan’s owner Margaret Cahalan.

The owner of the building has yet to inform the businesses whether it intends to rebuild on the property, which the proprietors said has left them in limbo.

“There’s nothing available right now in Sunnyside for renting, and we still don’t know if the property is going to rebuilt,” Cahalan said.

The owner of the building could not be reached for comment.

Cahalan said she still has every intention of reopening the popular sports bar, which catered to a largely Irish crowd and broadcast international sports matches using a large satellite dish propped on the roof.

A representative of the owner of Dae Dong said that in the aftermath of the fire, the restaurant’s managers are too busy to even consider finding a new location.

Dae Dong, an elegant Korean restaurant with rooms frequently rented out for banquets and large parties, opened 18 years ago in Sunnyside. The restaurant also has locations in Bayside and Manhattan which opened within the past five years.

The Dae Dong representative said one of the owners was overcome with stress after the fire and was hospitalized with a minor stroke.

The Korean market was well-known in the community, neighbors said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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