Nepali Food Market & Restaurant owners’ ‘American dream’ was business damaged in fire

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The owners of Nepali Food Market & Restaurant on Lake Avenue say they’re still in shock over flames that ripped through the upper portion of their building last night.

The fire destroyed four apartments above their market, and though it didn’t reach into the store, it sustained heavy water and smoke damage from the efforts to fight the fire.

Punan Lamgade and Raju Biswa, the owners of Nepali Food Market, told News10NBC Reporter Stephanie Duprey the store was their life. They spent all day Tuesday trying to salvage items inside it.

"Back in the refugee camp as soon as we hear the word fire, that gives us fear, because we used to live in a hut, a small house in the refugee camp and we saw fire burn our houses,” said Bijaya Khadka, a close friend and the founder of the New Americans Advisory Council.

Khadka helped translate the interview.

The family says they came to the United States over a decade ago as refugees and wanted to live "the American dream". They poured their hearts and souls into their store while sharing their culture with the Rochester community.

"This is very sad because coming from a refugee camp, with this American dream, you want to do something for your family and you want to live an American life,” Khadka said.

Fire officials say the flames ignited on the second floor Monday night around seven o’clock. Four apartments above the Nepali store suffered heavy damage. No one was hurt. Khadka says just recently the family lost thousands of dollars trying to get merchandise shipped from Nepal to sell at their store. Somehow it never made it. Then the fire happened.

"We are fortunate that our community loves us and they love our product,” Khadka added.

And that love showed Tuesday night when Rochester Police Officer Moses Robinson showed up to check on the family.

"Sometimes it’s just about being here, and then we strategize on how we can move forward and help them recover from the loss they suffered, and that’s what we’ll do,” Robinson said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The family said they don’t think their store is salvageable. Duprey asked how the community could help, and they said they’re still figuring something out.

If and when the family shares a collection with us, we will update viewers and readers.