Foodstore gutted by fire moves to temporary premises
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 17 June 2018
Loyal customers are supporting a food business which has moved into a temporary shop after its original base was gutted by fire.
Rainbow Wholefoods, which was opened in December 1976 by Richard Austin, has been forced to relocate within the Norwich Lanes until the end of this year.
It had previously been based in Labour In Vain Yard off Guildhall since 2004.
On the evening of April 11 the store was ruined by accidental fire most-likely started by a faulty compressor motor in a freezer, according to Mr Austin.
It moved into the former Rock Collection shop on Lower Goat Lane three weeks ago.
Mr Austin, who started the business as a 26-year-old University of East Anglia philosophy graduate, said: “Our business has a Norwich Lanes-type of personality. That is where our customers go.
“It has been a massive effort to move into the temporary shop.
“Since we have reopened so many people have expressed their gratitude to us. That feels pretty good.”
The single-storey space, which also used to be an Andys Records store, had to be revamped to accommodate the food business.
This was done in six days by Mr Austin and his 10 members of staff.
The businessman, who was in Wales when the fire broke out at 8pm, was “devastated” by the blaze.
No-one was injured but Mr Austin, 67, said that if the firefighters had not forced their way into the building when they did the rest of Norwich Lanes’ historic buildings were at risk of fire damage.
“A day after the fire I was absolutely amazed to see that everything in the shop was ruined. Everything was covered in black. It wasn’t great,” he added.
Wild Thyme café above Rainbow Wholefoods was smoke damaged and also remains shut for refurbishment.
Mr Austin hopes the Labour In Vain Yard shop will reopen at the start of next year after a six-month refurbishment.
The extensive work is covered by insurance and organised by the building’s owner.
“We will do our best to make it the best space it can be,” said Mr Austin.
“Without the support of the customers or local businesses I don’t know what would have happened. A bit of kindness goes a long way.”