The Diner hosts Aug. 21 fundraiser for Sunset Cork Room
Popular bistro suffers extensive damage during smoldering Aug. 4 fire
Ashley and Steve Kazman, owners of The Diner in Gulf Shores, will host an Aug. 21 fish-fry benefit their friends and employees at The Sunset Cork Room Restaurant & Wine Bar, another locally owned bistro that was forced to close indefinitely following an Aug. 4 fire that smoldered for hours in the kitchen and caused extensive damage to its building on East 16th Ave. in Gulf Shores.
“My parents would always take me there when I visited from Georgia, and we like Nina (Sunset Cork Room co-owner Nina Martin,’’ Ashley Kazman said. “Steve and I have been there on dates. It’s really unfortunate what happened to them. We just wanted to help.’’
The benefit will start at 3 p.m. and feature AYCE fried fish for $15, a silent auction and live music from Lisa Christian (pictured left) and friends. A GoFundMe.com drive for Martin, co-owner Connie Nickerson (pictured above) and her employees raised $10,210 in its first 11 days. The goal of that fund is $75,000.
“We didn’t even have to solicit for donations for the silent auction,’’ Ashley Kazman said. “People have been calling us asking ‘what they can I donate, what can I do, how can I help?’ It’s great not to have to worry about that.’’
Martin wrote on Gofundme that opening The Sunset Cork Room Restaurant & Wine Bar 12 years ago was a dream that became a reality.
“We are a small and intimate place where everyone feels welcome,’’ she wrote. “We have employees whom I love as family who are suddenly and unexpectedly by no fault of their own, along with me, out of work.’’
Martin added that the Gulf Shores Fire Dept. was already on site when she arrived at work on Aug. 4.
“I was literally watching my company go up in smoke. A stubborn fire smoldered inside the Sunset Cork Room for hours before smoke began seeping from inside and letting everyone know something was terribly wrong.’’
Martin said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, and she has not been able to get inside the building to asses the full damage from the fire. She started the Gofundme site to help her take care of her employees, mortgage and bills until the restaurant is open again. So added that the response from her loyal customers and friends has been overwhelming.
“I’m no longer like a deer in the headlights,’’ she said. “We are coping by focusing on the amount of work we have to do to and what we have to get lined up to get open again.’’