The tragedy of York Street

On April 7, 2023, the Sackville community was faced with an unexpected misfortune. Joey’s Pizza & Pasta had caught on fire, destroying the entire establishment, in addition to the residence above it. The town lost a beloved restaurant, residents lost their jobs, and students lost their homes. Although the event occurred last spring, it undoubtedly continues to influence the small town.

Around 9:00 am, the residents of uptown Sackville woke up to smoke billowing out of a nearby building on York Street. By noon, all Tantramar fire departments including Sackville, Dorchester, Amherst, Pointe de Bute, and Memramcook had gathered around Joey’s. They required an abundance of water to put out the fire and had to take countless trips to Silver Lake to replenish it. With the amount of support and hard work provided by first responders on the scene, the fire was out by 2:00pm. Thankfully, everyone had evacuated in a timely manner, and there were no injuries.

The community of Sackville proved its teamwork and support that day. Tim Hortons and Subway provided food and drinks for the firefighters. The university greatly assisted those that required accommodations, and Jennings Dining Hall was free of cost for those who were required to leave their homes due to the smoke. University staff worked to obtain laptops, clothing, and other necessities to ensure that the affected students were comfortable for their last couple weeks of classes. Many local businesses shared their support for Joey’s on social media. Fener’s Place, a Kurdish restaurant just down the street, wrote on Facebook, “Joey’s was a Sackville landmark – indeed, a Sackville tradition – and helped pave the way for other small businesses like ours. Sending love during this difficult time.” Aida’s Café showed their remorse for the lost business by sharing Feners’ post on their Facebook page. Teazer’s Pub and Eatery in Amherst expressed their condolences and took donations for staff. Bands “204” and “Slush” performed at Ducky’s as a fundraiser for the restaurant. A small business titled “Blackhare” had also created Joey’s graphic t-shirts as a fundraiser for the restaurant staff.

Joey’s was a big part of Sackville’s charm. The restaurant wrote on their website, “Joey’s has been a landmark of Sackville since 1988, and it’s because of the love and support from the community that we’ve been able to serve you for the past 35 years. We can’t thank everybody enough for all the love and support we’ve continued to receive today.” This closure is saddening for the community, especially considering the other businesses that have been shutting down. Nabu Sushi burned down in 2020, then the vintage restaurant, Mel’s Tearoom, closed in 2022. Just in the past year, Sackville had also lost the Vogue Cinema which was beloved by the community. Encouragingly, some residents are striving to save these businesses, and some are opening new ones. The owner of Song’s Chopsticks is planning to open a new Korean fried chicken restaurant in Mel’s old building. The iconic 78-year-old “Mel’s Tearoom” sign will be saved and kept at the Dorchester jail. 

Disasters such as the fire at Joey’s and the COVID-19 pandemic may have made a dent in the town, but there is no doubt that Sackville will bounce back.

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