The local haven for vegans, vegetarians, hippies and health nuts is back in business, although not yet with vegetables.
The Isla Vista Food Cooperative has almost fully recovered from a fire behind the building at 6575 Seville Road that occurred June 7. A cigarette butt carelessly discarded by a Co-op employee caused the fire. The flames that followed not only destroyed the shop’s entire inventory, but left much of its physical interior severely damaged. David Montano, the store’s general manager, said the fire left the shop in need of massive repair due to smoke damage.
“The entire physical inventory was replaced,” he said. “The produce area was completely gutted, and display cases, shelving and a computer with water damage were all replaced.”
New floors and a paint job are also on the list of repairs.
Rob English, a Co-op employee and Santa Barbara City College student, said the store has not yet fully replenished its produce section.
“We are still waiting for the produce cooler to be installed. The health and body section isn’t fully stocked yet either because we don’t have the room for it. We need to wait until the coolers are installed and then stock the section around it,” he said. “I would estimate [the produce coolers] will be installed within the next month or month and a half, but that’s just a guess.”
Longtime Co-op customer and junior global studies major Amanda Barker said that she doesn’t think the fire has affected the Co-op’s quality of products and service.
“They still have all the great items they once had,” Barker said. “We’re really glad that it’s reopened because they sell foods you just can’t get at Albertson’s.”
The fire caused an estimated $400,000 worth of damage, which is covered by the shop’s insurance plan. The Co-op is currently looking for ways to prevent a similar accident in the future.
“We took a look at our current policy and added more specific language to our particular building,” Montano said.
The Co-op is making approximately 75 percent of the profits it made last year, which, according to Montano, is still a fairly stable profit margin.