Big effort by small businesses to keep going after roof collapse

Small businesses facing big problems following St. Matthews strip mall roof collapse

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Sue Chao rents a commercial kitchen by the day in Jeffersontown just so she can keep her business on life support.

In late July, the owner of Half Peach Bakery and Cafe was suddenly ordered out of her building on Oechsli Avenue.

A partial roof collapse at the Gallerias at St. Matthews left the structure unsafe.

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“I can bake a cake, cookies, only the big stuff,” Chao said as she rolled out balls of cookie dough on a baking pan.

Her daily operation employing six people was poised to expand into a second location when the roof collapsed.

She now bakes just three days a week with one employee.

Chao estimates she has lost more than half her business.

Hers is among a list of small businesses now in limbo.

Hastily-written notes taped to front windows are signs of the times as tenants of the now vacant Gallerias at St. Matthews try to reconnect with old customers.

Scott Southard and Kathy Staton, co-owners of Maui Whitening Louisville, are fighting to get their regular teeth whitening clients to visit them at a new location on Shelbyville Road.

They also had just made a big commitment to expand their business before the disaster.

"I called and told her we don't have a business anymore," Southard said. "But we had a business, we didn't have a place to put it. So that threw a lot of stress up in the air."

“We probably lost 50 percent of the clients we had to cancel,” Staton said. “We’re working on contacting them. Fortunately our phone is still ringing. So we had to get back up as soon as we could.”

Several business owners contacted for this story said they have not received any clear plans from the landlord to repair the damage and reopen.

The popular restaurant Havana Rumba filed a lawsuit last week. The restaurant is moving to a new location.

Attempts to contact the landlord were not successful.

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