Innaloo business owners left in limbo after fire

Active Body Fitness owner Gretchen Kau. Photo: Andrew Ritchie
Active Body Fitness owner Gretchen Kau. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

INNALOO business owners have been left in limbo after a suspected arson attack in June.

Arson Squad Detectives are investigating a fire that gutted Safa Kebabs on Scarborough Beach Road in the early hours of June 22, damaging neighbouring businesses Active Body Fitness, Dhaba Indian restaurant and Chance Hair Studio.

Owners remain unable to operate while they await repairs to their businesses.

The wait caused Active Body Fitness owner Gretchen Kau to lose members, so she decided to seek an alternative venue.

“With a gym, if you don’t operate then people will find another gym,” she said.

“I was losing members each day. For me it was heartbreaking because everything had got up to running really well. It had taken me eight months to get it to that point.”

The Doubleview resident is seeking to lease space at the western end of the shopping complex, owned by the City of Stirling, and hopes to be operating by the end of August.

“I’m not ready to throw the towel in yet,” she said.

“I’m hoping the members who cancelled will return and I can rebuild.”

But moving is not a viable option for Chance Hair Studio owner Jamie-Lee Marcou, who took over the salon four years ago and has worked there since she was 16, or Dhaba’s Vishal Patel.

Mr Patel took ownership just two months prior to the fire and spent all of his money on the restaurant, so he can not afford a lease elsewhere.

He said the situation had been “very difficult” and he was frustrated at not knowing when his premises would be fixed.

“Everything has been very hard,” he said.

“I’ve lost all hope.”

Ms Marcou also believed she would “lose out” by moving her salon and hoped she could start operating again soon.

“I want to come back,” she said.

“You work hard, you build up your business and you work hard to get clients. I’m frustrated it’s taking so long.”

She described fellow owners at the complex as a “little family”.

“It was such a good community,” she said.

The trio each expressed concern at the time it was taking to repair the damaged businesses, which they blamed on the building’s insurer and lack of communication from the landlord.

Property agency David Lam Real Estate did not return a request for comment.