The owner of the Isaac’s Way restaurant that burned down in Fredericton last week is enlisting the help of local businesses to get a charity drop-in centre back in operation.
Chefs at the downtown Fredericton eatery provided food for a weekly program at the nearby Wilmot United Church.
In the last decade since he helped start the drop-in centre's weekly meal program, Jason LeJeune said he believes it has served 10,000 meals.
He said about 40 people now show up at the church every Saturday for the meal.
After losing his restaurant in the fire, LeJeune said the centre needs help so it can continue providing those meals to people in the city.
"The people that were served through that drop-in centre were the people of greatest need in our community. So we've tried to make that the focus of our transition," he said.
Two restaurants have already agreed to take over one Saturday per month and LeJeune said he's hoping to find two more restaurants soon that can fill the remaining gaps.
The fire, which destroyed the three-storey building, started at 12:30 a.m. on Oct. 7. There was a rooming house located over the popular restaurant.
The fire left the rooming house’s 26 residents homeless, Lejeune said those people were the core of the drop-in centre's community.
Most of the fire victims have been staying at the Fredericton Inn but they have to leave on Monday because of prior bookings at the hotel.
Jean-Francois Pelletier, a spokesperson with the Department of Social Development, said housing has been found for 22 of the department's 24 clients.
But Pelletier said those housing arrangements are not ready for them to move into yet.
"So it's still going on, we need to be organized, and we're going to offer them shelter and answer their needs while this is happening," he said.
In the meantime, the tenants are moving to a new hotel, which will be covered by the provincial government.
Tim Ross, the co-ordinator with the Community Action Group on Homelessness, said the recent fire has shown the scarcity of affordable housing options in Fredericton.