With a coffee in hand, Jovica Karanovic sits on a police barricade and surveys what remains of his restaurant, Queenston Fish and Chips, a day after the building partially collapsed. It's not hard to see how tired he is.

The wall of the Queenston Road building gave way on Tuesday when a contractor was trying to repair it, he said.

The shop has been around for more than half a century, and business has been going well after his family took over the store from its previous owner some 10 years ago, Karanovic said.

When asked when his restaurant would reopen, he shrugged his shoulders.

“We'll see,” he told CBC Hamilton, adding that he hopes the insurance would cover the loss.

Hamilton police and the city's fire department responded to the building at 350 Queenston Rd., Tuesday afternoon and discovered that a large area had been excavated underneath the business, police say.

The building appeared to be collapsing with cracks in the walls slowly getting larger, and it was being pulled toward the basement level, according to police reports.

Police officers and firefighters evacuated the building and the occupants got out unharmed. 

The city's building inspector determined that the building was unsafe and no one should enter until an engineer has reviewed the structure.

John Lane, the city's building inspection manager, said the contractor was doing repair work to a foundation wall on the east side of the building when the wall started to collapse.

The contractor did not have the proper building permit to carry out the work, Lane said. The city is also investigating whether the contractor is unlicensed.

“They are not known to us," Lane told CBC Hamilton. "They don't have a license to operate in the City of Hamilton.”

After the building partially collapsed, there were concerns that the store's front windows were under pressure and could potentially shatter across Queenston Road.

The sidewalk in front of the store, as well as one lane, was blocked by fences as a result. Pedestrians are asked to use the opposite sidewalk.