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Fundraiser set for North Park businesses damaged in fire

Posted at 4:18 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 00:38:41-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Members of North Park's business community are coming together to help two mom-and-pop businesses that have remained closed since a fire damaged their building in December.

Antonio Hernandez and his family were on their way to church Dec. 12 when they got a nightmare phone call: smoke was coming from the roof of their new mental health clinic, Soluna Wellness. It was the same smoke they could see as they drove north on the 805 freeway.

"It really was a difficult time," Hernandez said. "To see a business that we just started, and our dream business to be able to help people... it was really hard to digest. It really did crush us."

A fire had broken out in the building Soluna shares with Mr. Brown's Barber Shop. The two businesses have been closed since the fire, and to make matters worse, Hernandez and his wife Emmercelle had just spent upwards of six figures transforming their space from a former co-working facility to an inviting studio.

"It's hard to look at," he said, holding back tears. "We poured our heart and soul into it."

But now others in this close-knit North Park business community are stepping up.

On Thursday, Jan. 20, Verbena Kitchen, right across the street, is hosting an all-evening happy hour to raise money for Soluna and Mr. Browns. Area businesses have donated beer and cider to the event, plus items to raffle.

"We can only do so much, but when we join together as a community, we're unstoppable and we're seeing that here," said Dallas Juanes, GM of Verbena Kitchen.

Hernandez said to have the support from his community and fellow business owners is what's keeping him going.

The event at Verbena begins at 4 p.m. Jan. 20 and runs until at least 9 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will go to each of the GoFundMe pages for Mr. Brown's and Soluna Wellness.

ABC-10 has reached out to the city for an update on the fire investigation.