MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Twin Cities business owners lost it all during that civil unrest.
Bolé Ethiopian restaurant has been on University Avenue in St. Paul for about three years. It burned down May 28, during the civil unrest following George Floyd’s death. Nearly two months later, as the former restaurant sits in pieces, the owners say they’ve learned some hard lessons.
“When we left home we never thought that there would be a riot or a protest right by our door,” said Bolé owner, Solomon Hailie.
After a night of unrest in the Twin Cities, Solomon Hailie was nervous to go to work on May 28.
As crowds moved in, he closed up shop. But by 4:00 p.m., his restaurant was filled with smoke.
“I stand there until the firefighters told me ‘I don’t think we can save this,’” Hailie said.
He didn’t stay to watch it burn, but came back in the morning.
“That’s when we found out that it was all gone,” Hailie said. “That was the bottom.”
From there, Hailie quickly learned his 3-year-old business was underinsured.
“Business owners they need to know more about their insurance,” Hailie said. “There’s assumption they just assume that some people knowingly don’t insure what they have.”
He says city and state leaders promised to help, but haven’t yet.
“We met everyone, they heard our cry,” Hailie said. “Right after that month’s time nobody show up.”
“It’s going to come back in phases some of the businesses are already back, for some it’s going to take a lot longer,” said Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chad Kulas. “We hope the Midway will work for more people than it did in the past and that we will have more locally owned places and businesses for people to go.”
While officials haven’t stepped in to help Bolé rebuild yet, but others have.
The community has raised more than $150,000 for the business on a fundraising page.
That’s not enough to rebuild, but it’s enough to know the community wants Bolé back.
“The level of support it just means a lot it’s more than a million dollars,” Hailie said. “Don’t forget us we’ll be back.”
Midway chamber is accepting donations and is offering grants for business owners.
A GoFundMe had been set up for Bolé. You can click here to donate.