Best Rise From the Ashes, Literally

Commonwealth Cafe & Public House

It was every restaurateur’s worst nightmare: On Sunday, July 8, 2012, an electrical fire ripped through Ross and Ahna Adair’s cozy, two-year-old, UK-themed bar, cafe, and restaurant, rendering the refrigeration system inoperable, the inside charred, and the whole place all but wrecked. But what happened next was also unexpected: The restaurant community banded together for a series of benefits, pop-ups, and general goodwill-raising that generated money for the construction, kept Commonwealth’s name on people’s lips, and gave its staff some much-needed work hours. Businesses like Grand Tavern, Kitchener Oakland, Oaklandish, and Trueburger donated food and kitchen and refrigerator space for a successful pop-up event at Linden Street Brewery; Hawker Fare and Beer Revolution both offered their spaces for special fundraising events; Actual Cafe and Beauty’s Bagel Shop each hired one of Commonwealth’s now-unemployed staff members; and Oaklandish printed up T-shirts free of charge to be sold at various events as a fundraiser. Commonwealth reopened in October, almost three months to the day of the fire; it was, by all accounts, packed.

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