By Manotick Messenger Staff
Manotick and surrounding area are rallying to support the Gingerbread Man, an iconic local business that was devasted by fire Fri., Nov. 4.
Firefighters from the Manotick Fire Department were the first on the scene. According to one of the firefighters, their work went beyond fighting the fire as efforts were made to save any inventory and supplies they could. Among the items that were saved were the recipes that were the backbone of what the business was built on.
“It’s devastating for us,” said Richard Palframan, whose baked delicacies have been part of the fabric of the village for the past generation. “Obviously this could not have happened at a worse time for us, but the response from the community and the support we have received is incredible. It is very humbling.”
Palframan and his wife, Kaori, live upstairs from their business on Tighe Street.
“I heard something downstairs and at first I thought it was my wife,” he said. “Then I realized it wasn’t, and I went to see what was happening. I was barely dressed.”
What Palframan saw was a fire that was quickly destroying their business, as well as their lives.
“It only took about 30 minutes for the fire to consume everything,” he said.
Palframan said the fire started between two walls adjacent to the kitchen. It completely destroyed the kitchen, including the equipment and special instruments used. He said that investigators had not yet been able to determine the cause of the blaze.
“This is a 150-year-old building,” he said. “It could have been one of a number of things.”
The Worst Timing
The timing could not have been worse for Richard and Kaori. Their business is geared for the Christmas season. Palframan estimates that the business will lose about $150,000 in orders and business.
“Sure, there is insurance that will cover some things, but it will take us a long time to recover from this and rebuild,” he said. “We are going to have to try and raise at least $100,000 in order to keep going.”
Palframan apprenticed under a five-star chef for seven years and perfected his abilities as a baker. He moved to Manotick in 2001, and over the next decade saw his business grow organically. By 2011, he had opened the Gingerbread Man. The store became a fixture in the village and drew many visitors to the community.
“People come to Manotick to experience the shops and restaurants, but one of the businesses that brings people to the village is the Gingerbread Man,” said retiring Manotick BIA Executive Director Donna Smith in a 2019 interview with the Messenger.
One of the biggest showcase days of the year for the Palframans is Manotick’s annual Women’s Day. They were able to set up a display on a table in front of their store with some of the gingerbread houses and baked goods on display. Rather than talk about their gingerbread houses, famous butter tarts, and Kaori’s signature banana breads and shortbread, they talked to customers about how they hoped to be back.
Customers, whether they were regular or occasional, all offered their best wishes and support. There were tears and promises of prayers from many who stopped by.
Palframan started a GoFundMe page to assist with his fundraising efforts. Within 48 hours, close to $20,000 had already been raised.
“Unfortunately, the fire destroyed the shop at the busiest time of year, with Christmas fast approaching. Richard and Kaori had been working tirelessly to fulfill the gingerbread house order book and keep the shelves stocked with Christmas-themed cookies and delicious baked goods. All food, including the freshly decorated gingerbread houses, kitchen equipment, and, most importantly, family treasures/memorabilia, have all been lost.
“While we may not have many answers, we hope to rebuild and bring back the Gingerbread Man to Manotick,” the GoFundMe page says.
To visit the GoFundMe page, click Here.
(Firefighting photo courtesy of Chris Napior).