Joy for Hastings fast food shop owner as business rises from ashes

Leo O'Reilly outside his reopened business SUS-180530-152043001
Leo O'Reilly outside his reopened business SUS-180530-152043001

A shop owner’s business has risen from the ashes after being destroyed in a devastating fire.

Leo O’Reilly, 38, lost everything when his shop, Bite 2 Eat in Marine Parade was damaged by the blaze in May 2014.

But his business finally reopened this month after a long struggle getting back on his feet again.

Early on the Sunday morning in May 2014 the fierce blaze erupted inside a row of properties in Marine Parade.

The Old Town community was left in shock after one of the worst fire in 30 years which left several families, including Leo, homeless and one woman with horrific injuries.

Leo said: “The business was completely destroyed. There was nothing inside at all.

“I lost everything in the fire, as I lived above the shop and lost my job and had no contents insurance.”

Leo added that he remembers being woken up by screaming on the night of the fire. He saw smoke in his room and ran down the stairs to escape, wearing only his underwear and carrying his dog in his arms.

Flames ripped through the properties and quickly burned through the roof and interior of the premises.

At one stage up to 40 firefighters from across the county tackled the blaze to stop it spreading to adjoining properties.

More than 30 people were evacuated from their homes as a result of the fire, cared for at the RNLI and the East Hastings Angling Association.

The fire service later confirmed the cause of the blaze was accidental.

Leo said he was in a ‘bad way’ after losing his business due to the fire, which he had only launched two years before.

He ended up living in temporary accommodation for three days in Warrior Square, St Leonards.

Leo also had to sleep on the sofa at a friend’s house for several months as he tried to get back on his feet.

He then lived in Bohemia Road, moved to London for a year and then lived in Bexhill before finally getting the keys back to his original address in Marine Parade.

Leo took out a £10,000 loan to resurrect his business, which is now called O’Reilly’s Gourmet Breakfast & Burgers.

He said: “It was a struggle to get going again but customers are coming back and I’m happy to be back at work.”