The Chapel Hill Fire Department responded to a call of a fire around 2:30 p.m. July 22 at the Mediterranean Deli located at 410 W. Franklin St. First responders had the fire under control by 6 p.m. that evening, and reported that 50% of the location was lost to the fire. 

Though Elon’s location was set to open this summer, after closing its Park Place location at 202 W. Haggard Ave. in 2022, Mediterranean Deli owner Jamil Kadoura predicts it will be another six months before reopening in Acorn Coffee’s former location at 116 N. Williamson Ave. Acorn Coffee Shop will move and reopen inside Elon University’s Belk Library this fall. 

With Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street location unusable for operation, Kadoura said Mediterranean Deli will be operating out of The Story Venue on West Franklin Street for catering operations only beginning this Saturday, July 29. 

According to Kadoura, extensive work needs to be done for the Elon location to facilitate the reopening, as the building currently has limited utilities — which they now need more time to address while they recover from the losses in Chapel Hill.

“That building is an old building,” Kadoura said. ”I need some serious work to bring it up to code.”

Alex Carrasquillo, community safety public information officer, said many other neighboring fire departments came to aid Chapel Hill in handling the fire. He said three firefighters were treated at the hospital from the response: one for a cut and two for heat exhaustion as a precaution. 

“We quickly realized that this was going to take more than just the Chapel Hill Fire Departments,” Carrasquillo said. 

According to Carrasquillo, the cause of the fire is unknown and the investigation is still ongoing. 

Kadoura said while the restaurant had already been evacuated, the fire department acted quickly.

“The word hero doesn't describe them, we have to find a better word,” Kadoura said.

A GoFundMe website has been set up to support Mediterranean Deli employees in the wake of the fire, with nearly $180,000 raised so far and a goal of $250,000. Carrasquillo said the community’s action is a testament to how important the restaurant is to Chapel Hill.

“People are very familiar with the owner. Our police officers, our firefighters, town staff,” Carrasquillo said. “I mean, everybody who has spent any amount of time in Chapel Hill has probably eaten there and is familiar with the staff there.” 

Kadoura said that Mediterranean Deli has only had to halt its operations this week, as the company is working to get food from their vendors so they can prepare to open for catering operations this weekend. 

He said that he hopes to open a new dining room location in Chapel Hill within the next 30 days.

“It's a disaster what happened, but I’m starting to … feel better mentally and I'm looking forward to opening in Elon,” Kadoura said.