Fire destroys landmark restaurant leaving Mt. A. students & university staffer homeless

Joey’s Italian restaurant & bar reduced to rubble

An early morning fire destroyed one of Sackville’s best-known and most-loved restaurants Friday while leaving four Mount Allison students and a university staff member temporarily homeless.

Joey’s Pizza, Pasta, Bar & Grill had been a fixture on York Street for decades until fire broke out in the Hanson Block that housed it around 9:30 a.m. The students and Mt. A. staffer were tenants in second-storey apartments.

No one was injured in the fire.

The university said about 20 other students living near the area had to leave their apartments because of the smoke and it wasn’t clear when they would be able to return to their homes.

Mt. A. set up an area in its on-campus chapel to accept donations of gift cards, clothing and other necessities for the homeless students and promised to provide free food and accommodation for them as well.

The sister of one of the students set up an online GoFundMe campaign to receive donations for the students.

Firefighters hoisted to roof

Sackville Fire Chief Craig Bowser says the fire started at the rear of the 96-year-old building and the Fire Marshall’s office is investigating its cause.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they encountered heavy smoke and began fighting the fire in the rear. Around 10 a.m., firefighters were hoisted to the building’s roof as smoke began billowing out of it.

Later as flames became visible and thick smoke blanketed the downtown, about 50 firefighters from Sackville and the surrounding fire departments in Point de Bute, Dorchester, Memramcook and Amherst fought to prevent the fire from spreading.

Chief Bowser says a local contractor was brought in to demolish part of the Joey’s building to contain the fire.

Facebook photo

Photo: Josh Goguen

The town closed off streets in the downtown to traffic as fire trucks, with sirens wailing, roared up and down Main Street to Silver Lake for water to supplement downtown hydrants that draw from Sackville’s three wells and its water tower.

Chief Bowser says the system worked well in delivering the required high volumes of water.

He says the fire was out by about 2 p.m. with only a few hot spots remaining.

Although part of the Hanson Block is still standing thanks to a fire wall, Bowser says it sustained water, smoke and fire damage.

Facebook post from Joey’s expressing gratitude that no one was injured in the fire. The restaurant is owned by Leeya Hicks of Amherst who bought it from Anna Zappia Mann in 2017

Sackville’s fire chief says he’s proud of the work that volunteer firefighters performed in fighting today’s fire.

“Kudos to our members,” he says. “All departments worked well together in our mutual aid agreement. We’re very pleased with how it went.”

To read Tantramar Mayor Andrew Black’s eyewitness account of the fire on his Facebook page, click here.

For a history of the Hanson Block and its architectural significance from Tantramar Heritage Trust, click here.

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3 Responses to Fire destroys landmark restaurant leaving Mt. A. students & university staffer homeless

  1. Azi says:

    Another loss for Sackville ..I guess it is a norm for Sackville to easily lose historic/iconic buildings and businesses (not to mention all the other news I read and hear about like the hospital,…).
    SOOO SAD…SOOOOO disappointing that this building and business were added to the list, so easily! In these pictures, this building looks very lonely and helpless.

  2. Azi says:

    I have to add this one too:
    Just two nights ago my husband and I were at an Italian restaurant in Waterloo, Ontario. The atmosphere, interior design, and pictures on the wall reminded both of us of Joey’s. But we both agreed that Joey’s interior was warmer and nicer.

    I lived in Sackville for 13 years and Joey’s was one of the comforting places that my husband and I used to go to relax and enjoy good food and service. We have also celebrated many of my husband’s students’ graduations and achievements in Joey’s too.
    I would like to thank Joey’s owners and everyone who worked in Joey’s. You were amazing and I hope you bounce back from this tragedy stronger than before.

  3. Jon says:

    Was it on York Street for 35 years? Didn’t Joey’s originally operate out of Steve’s Tavern, in 1988, and then later moved downtown?

    Response from Bruce Wark: Yes, the history is a bit complicated. Here’s an excerpt from a piece by Gwen Zwicker that appeared in the Tribune-Post on August 22, 2018:

    “Emigrating from Calabria, Italy, the Zappia family opened their first restaurant in Ontario in 1954. In 1973, father Dominic and his family opened his restaurant, Antonio’s in New Brunswick. This was followed by one in Sackville in 1979, a small take-out on York Street. By 1984, this had grown into a licensed Italian restaurant and had moved to Main Street. The restaurant was sold in 1988.

    “Joey’s came about when Joey Zappia, Dominic’s son, opened his restaurant in September 1988, selling pizza slices from a small window in what was then Steve’s Tavern. Sister Anna and brother Lenny joined Joey in 1991 and Joey’s grew again. Joey’s restaurant moved to Bridge Street before going back to York Street, where it remains today.”

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