‘An emotional day’: Burger store reopens following Melbourne earthquake damage

A Melbourne burger store that was severely damaged in the September earthquake is serving takeaways for the first time in eight weeks.

Key points:Betty's Burgers Windsor store has reopened for takeaway and deliveriesThe store will open to dine-in customers next yearStructural engineers worked for six weeks to make sure the building on Chapel Street was safe

Part of the facade of the heritage building, which houses Betty's Burgers' Windsor store, crumbled when a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck near the Victorian town of Mansfield on September 22.

The earthquake is believed to be one of the biggest ever recorded in Australia and was felt up and down the east coast.

After extensive work, including bracing, structural engineers declared the building safe to reopen to the public on Tuesday.

Managing director of Betty's Burgers Troy McDonagh said he was "chuffed" to be reopening.

"It's an emotional day," he said.

"It's been a hard eight weeks. We've worked hard to get back sooner than we expected and we are ready to serve our beautiful burgers to our guests again."

A damaged Chapel Street building facade.
The store was severely damaged in the September 22 quake.(Supplied)

The century-old building will remain surrounded by external hoarding and temporary fences until rectification works on the historic facade are completed sometime next year.

Mr McDonagh said he wanted to reopen to seated customers when the shop no longer felt like a building site.

"We had looked at the way the building presented, and we didn't feel it was right to open the dining room up," he said.

"So we've decided to just commence our trade on a delivery and takeaway-only model."

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'It was ugly in here'

After being battered by six citywide lockdowns, the hospitality business said it was "quite surreal" to be hit by an earthquake.

Mr McDonagh thought: "What else do we have to overcome?"

Despite the damage to the outside and second story, when structural engineers deemed the building safe to re-enter six weeks after the quake Mr McDonagh said there was no damage inside.

However, there was $20,000 of "abandoned" food in the shop.

"Six weeks without power, lots of food, as you can imagine it was pretty ugly and pretty smelly," he said.

A store surrounded by temporary fences with big metal poles holding up the walls
Bracing will remain in place while the heritage exterior is restored.(ABC Melbourne: Matilda Marozzi)

The team undertook a deep clean.

After weeks sitting idle, staff also found some of the equipment needed to be serviced or repaired.

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"It's like starting something up that hasn't been in action for a little while," Mr McDonagh said.

"So yeah, we've had a few little mishaps over the past 48 hours, so we've had to fix that up."

Although the past two months had been difficult, Mr McDonagh said it was great to be back open.

"One of the guys who was here last night, Sebastian, said: 'I feel like I've come home'," he said.

"So for our team to feel that they are ready to return home, ready to serve the community again — that's the amazing part."

Posted 4h ago4 hours agoTue 16 Nov 2021 at 4:03amShareCopy linkFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsApp

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