A popular Horsham town centre fish and chip shop has reopened its doors less than two weeks after a fire gutted the building.
Despite suffering massive fire and smoke damage in a dramatic blaze on Good Friday, Deep Blue in Colletts Alley was able to reopen on Tuesday (April 14), 11 days later.
Manager Paul Griffiths said the chip shop staff managed to evacuate the premises in less than 30 seconds after a chip fryer went up in flames.
The team turned up at the restaurant the following day to begin the repair job, and worked hard to ensure it reopened as soon as possible.
Paul said: “All my staff turned up on Saturday morning and said ‘what do you want us to do?’ which was fantastic. We are a little family and their effort has been phenomenal.
“They had everybody out in under 30 seconds and they stood at either end of the alleyway keeping everybody away from the building.
“It would have been very scary for them but their training took over and they kept calm heads and did what they have been trained to do. I can’t praise them enough really.”
Firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes of the blaze and the area was cordoned off on the first day of Piazza Italia, with thousands of people visiting the town centre.
Nobody was injured and no Ferraris parked near the entrance to Colletts Alley were damaged.
A smaller frying range has been temporarily installed to replace the range destroyed by the flames.
Paul, who has managed the shop for 15 years, acknowledged that it is working at ‘about 60 per cent capacity’.
He added that work to repair the damage is ongoing but the team were desperate to reopen.
He said: “We have borrowed this little range to get back open, and we are hoping to get a new one in early May.
“We are operating at about 60 per cent capacity but at least we are open.
“It is the first bad fire I have had in this shop and hopefully the last.”
Paul thanked the fire service for ‘saving the building’ with their quick response.
He also thanked Garry Mortimer-Cook and the Piazza Italia team for their assistance.
James Low, managing director of Deep Blue, said: “All the staff are very loyal to that shop and as soon as the fire happened the general view was that we need to get it back open as soon as possible.
“It is really impressive and we are really proud of them.”