Cape Breton pizza shop owners put competition aside to offer help after fire
On the night of Nov. 11, Belly Busters Pizza & Donair, on Nova Scotia’s Membertou First Nation, was badly damaged in a fire.
"The fire didn't just effect me, it affected 16 to 20 workers,” said Paul MacDonald, Belly Busters owner.
Belly Busters operated out of the Membertou building since opening its doors in 2009 and had just recently opened a second location about 10 minutes down the road in Howie Centre, N.S.
"It shut the other shop down as well because all our prep gets done in Membertou,” MacDonald said. “The other place is too small. There's no room to do any of that stuff, so we were in a bad jam."
Justin Ayre runs a number of Alexandra's Pizza locations in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. He agreed to let Belly Busters staff use the kitchen at his Sydney River shop to make food to be sold out of Belly Busters Howie Centre.
"Paul reached out to me a day or two later and asked if he could use my shop to do prep. I said 'Yeah sure, no problem,'" Ayre explained.
"There's no competition when it comes to friendship and trying to help a business out. We all need each other, especially during a time like this."
It’s not the type of favour you would normally expect from a competing pizza shop. However, MacDonald says the act of kindness likely prevented him from having to lay off staff, some of whom have been with him since he first opened about 12 years ago.
MacDonald says, if Ayre had not helped, he'd be out of business for the time being and his new location may have had to close for good.
“I'm down and out. He picked me up and at least we've got one store running,” MacDonald said. "Without Alexandra's Pizza, we would have had to shut down and I don't expect the Membertou store to be ready until well into the New Year."
When asked why he opened his kitchen to a competitor, Ayre’s answer was simple.
"Because I know he'd do the same thing for me. He would, in a heartbeat.”
The fire is under police investigation.