Night School, McMullan’s deal with closure just before school year
The commercial tenants of 56 King St. North have been forced to close their businesses for an undetermined period, as the building has been deemed unsafe for use. It was discovered in early August that a roof truss had snapped, causing critical damage to the building’s frame. The closure has left at least 50 people without work.
56 King Street houses four popular businesses in the Uptown Core: McMullan’s, Night School, Loop Clothing and The Thief and the Idiot. The structural damage to the building is believed to have been caused by the July thunderstorm which left much of Kitchener and Waterloo without hydro.
McMullan’s owner Chuck McMullan explained to The Cord that the cost of the damages is still unknown; however, it is clear that Night School has taken the brunt of the destruction.
“If they have to demolish the whole building the losses could be the millions. You’re probably looking at somewhere in the vicinity of a $2 million to $3 million loss,” McMullan explained.
Devon McKenzie, the owner of Night School, was the first to notice the damage done to the building.
“At the very start of August, I went in and we were about ready to open up and I noticed a slag in our ceiling,” he said. “So at that time, I went into the attic and noticed that there was a snapped beam. I then notified the landlord and we decided that the space was unfit for occupancy. It was not safe to let our patrons access the building.”
McKenzie’s suspicions about the unfit state of the building were confirmed after an investigation by the city’s building inspectors. “They reassured us that we had made the right decision. It’s unfortunate that we lost the business for the long weekend.”
Unfortunately, it appears that each of the occupants of 56 King St. N. will be anticipating lost business opportunities, despite the fast-approaching return of the student population.
“The current status of the building and what’s going to happen moving forward is really at the discretion of our insurance company and the landlord,” McKenzie shared. “Our plan for Night School in the long run is to be there whether it takes four months or eight months to rebuild at that location. We plan to reopen at that location.”
The business owners are at more than just an economic loss as they are faced with the emotional task of informing each of their staff members that they will be indefinitely out of work.
“We have approximately 20 employees. I mean, that was really the hardest part, to have that conversation 20 times. Explaining that we’re not going to be operational and to have to say I’m sorry, it’s unfortunate that we’re not going to be open.’ I know that a lot of our staff is going back to school in September. So it was tough to say that you’re going to miss a whole month of work.”
McKenzie, however, was hopeful for the future of his night club. He explained that many other businesses have opened their venues for Night School’s use.
“We had a lot of stuff planned for Frosh Week that unfortunately we now won’t be doing. However, Night School is still going to be able to do some of the activities that we did have planned,” McKenzie said.