Small business owners, take note of the great Julius Caesar, who once quipped, “No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.”
In Rockville Centre, New York, the Pantry Diner was a hallmark of my childhood. After every school play, major sporting event, Thanksgiving morning, or any weekend at 2 a.m., friends would gather at this establishment to enjoy burgers, omelettes and classic Greek salads. This establishment served as a de-facto community center for dozens of local groups. But, on November 14, 2011, all of that quickly changed.
A fire in the restaurant ended in a disaster. As the Patch reported at the time, a worker accidentally left an oven on overnight. And by 2:40 a.m., there were 20-foot flames flying into the air in every possible direction. A significant portion of the diner’s interior was completely melted to the point that a firefighter on the scene said the kitchen would be “unrecognizable” to most people.
And, just like that the Pantry Diner, quite literally, went up in smoke.
One forgetful action was all it took to destroy the business that formerly had thousands of fiercely loyal patrons and had supported the livelihoods of dozens of employees.
When I was back at my parents’ home recently, I drove by the Pantry Diner. It remained shuttered, with temporary fencing blocking off the entire place. Five years later, the diner hadn’t reopened, and the property sat vacant. Who knows how much income has been lost for the owners of the diner? I imagine that the owners didn’t have an adequate business insurance plan to cover such a catastrophe; otherwise, one can presume they would have started the rebuilding process as soon as possible after the incident, as their restaurant clearly did a brisk business.
However, it needn’t have ended in tragedy for the Pantry Diner. If there was ever a case for procuring commercial property insurance to protect your business against fire, natural disasters and theft, this was it.