LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s only been one day after a fire destroyed Armata’s Market and employees were back to work making sure their customers still have a happy Thanksgiving.
“We just went right to work. I have a great staff. We all looked at each other and said let’s do this,” said Alexis Vallides, owner of Armada’s Market.
Armata’s brought their store to the Longmeadow adult center where customers were able to still pick up their turkeys, sides and pies.
“The cooked turkeys and meals were off site. We also had to get a commercial kitchen going yesterday and finish up some things. Then, the fresh turkeys, we worked with some suppliers. We went and picked them up last night, last minute, and had them here,” said Vallides.
Armata’s usually has hundreds of premade Thanksgiving dinners ordered by customers. Those able to pick up their food Wednesday were thankful for the grocery store employees’ hard work.
“It’s nice to know that a community like this sticks together and is coming together for something like this,” said Michael Pollverelli of Westfield.
Lynn Pirrello of Enfield told 22News, “They deserve it! For what they’ve been through, they deserve it, they do.”
“Yesterday was a devastating day, but a day like today makes everything a little it better to see the community come out like this,” said Vallides.
The Longmeadow community is in shock after a fire destroyed six stores at the Maple Shopping Center which has been serving the community for decades.
The fire completely destroyed all six businesses in the shopping plaza on Shaker Road including Armata’s Market and the bottle shop. Armata’s was open for over 60 years and employed about 70 people. “I go to Armata’s everyday. It’s just super sad to see those businesses go down because of the fire,” said Ica Miles Mendiola employee at Li’s Brothers.
The town manager told 22News that they were working with MEMA and the state to provide unemployment and recovery assistance to the impacted businesses. Emergency officials say no one was injured in the fire or in the buildings when they arrived.
Crews from 13 different fire departments across Massachusetts and Connecticut worked yesterday to control the fire for more than ten hours. Longmeadow fire received the call around 6:15 a.m., but when they arrived the flames were already through the roof.
Longmeadow Fire Chief, John Dearborn, told 22News that it was unusual for the fire to be that big already and that it moved through the plaza quickly.
This plaza was home to many members of the community who have actively shopped at Armata for many years. Carrie Gatton a resident of Longmeadow said “I’ve been shopping here forever, this is like out little village right here so it’s really devastating.”
Armata’s posted on social media last night saying that everyone with Thanksgiving order they’re actively working to see what options are available and will send people an update when they have one. The market had previously offered prepared meals for Thanksgiving that were scheduled to be picked up on Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Some of the meals included a cooked turkey, gravy, rolls, sides such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, candied carrots, and a homemade apple or pumpkin pie.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause and where the fire could’ve started but Longmeadow’s fire chief says it could take a while because of all the damage.
The Town of Longmeadow posted on its Facebook page lamenting the businesses lost in the fire. The post also said that the town would be launching some sort of support initiative for those businesses and the employees who are now out of work.