Right before Christmas, as we were getting ready to send out the rush orders, we hear sirens in the distance. Then suddenly, dark flames begin to emerge from the cracks and windows of the Hoboken building where KLADO's kitchen was located. At first, I didn't realize what that meant. I assumed it was a small fire. Something that would be quickly contained. Instead, the fire continued to spread and slowly it engulfed the five story building, where we had spent the last two years building the place KLADO called home.
Since KLADO's launch in mid-2019, we knew we needed a dedicated production facility. A space where our young business could grow. The shared commercial kitchens were no longer practical. We needed something that could accommodate our machinery, our custom packaging, etc. We had found the perfect space in a converted warehouse. It was dilapidated, but like a diamond in the rough we saw its full potential. We signed the lease and spent the next several months transforming this space. A space once used as a storage unit became KLADO's newly functional kitchen. We laid the floors, painted the walls, installed all the kitchen equipment, stacked the thousands of boxes, passed inspection and received the City's seal of approval. Everything KLADO was produced from this kitchen located right outside of NYC, in Hoboken. Then, suddenly everything was gone.
This fire destroyed not just our unit, but impacted over 50 small businesses. All, like us, they were working towards fulfilling their dreams. Each day, we kept checking in on the progress. I would walk past the building, stop and stare in disbelief as to what had happened. How could this happen? We had so many questions and unfortunately there were little answers. The building management became unresponsive, the City turned a blind eye and we were without any information. Since everything was in the kitchen, we had to make the difficult decision to halt all operations. We contacted everyone who had an outstanding order and refunded them their purchase. We temporarily closed our retail store and our e-commerce site. We went from having more orders than we could handle to zero.
Despite the possibility of losing everything we worked so hard to build, I felt grateful. Grateful that our team wasn't working late that night. Grateful that we had decided to take a day off. Grateful that we were okay.
As the days passed and the new year approached, I started to accept the fact that our business was changed forever. That the way we operated KLADO would have to change. We no longer had our kitchen. We no longer had a space to produce our brigadeiros and brigato. We had nothing, not even have a spatula. Many people reached out to express their sympathy and offered to help. We set-up a GoFund Me page to aid us in our rebuilding effort. We've been fortunate to have an amazing community who have rallied behind us. Thanks to you, we're determined to keep going. We're determined to come back. We're determined to rebuild.
So, the biggest question now is "What's next?"