The Silver Spring community celebrated the reopening of Kefa Cafe on Saturday after the cafe was closed for 11 months.
The Kefa Cafe was closed in March due to a fire in the neighboring restaurant. Co-owner Lene Tsegaye said she anticipated the cafe would be open to the public two weeks after the fire, but the insurance took longer in looking at the damages than she expected.
“They (insurance) had to figure out how much damage for each business, so they took time and they had to upgrade every single thing,” said Tsegaye.
Tsegaye also said smoke was the primary cause of damage to the cafe and that the insurance covered the damages to the restaurant while building management took care of updating the electrical work.
According to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Peter Piringer, the fire was caused by an electrical problem in the ceiling of the Bombay Gaylord Restaurant, which is located behind Kefa Cafe.
Piringer also said the block is probably one of Silver Spring’s oldest.
Community member Dolores McDonna helped raise money so that Kefa Cafe could open a spot in the Silver Spring Public Library.
“When they learned about the library opportunity but they had to come up with $50,000 to be able to open that cafe, we worked with Lene and Aby to set up the Internet fundraising campaign. The money practically raised itself,” McDonna said.
Alan Bowser, the president of the Park Hills Civic Association, said the cafe was an important gathering place for many community members. Bowser also assisted with the social media effort that supported moving the business into the library.
The revenue from the spot in the library helped the Tsegaye’s with reopening the cafe on Bonifant Street.
“They are wonderful chamber members,” said Jane Redicker, president of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce. “We’re happy that they will be reopening.”
An artist who contributed to Kefa’s in-store exhibit, Bobbie Kitner, said that along with having great coffee and great food, the cafe has always had a great atmosphere.
“I think it is because it is sister-owned, and my best friend is my sister. I’m so glad that they are reopening. It was a sad day when they couldn’t reopen from the fire,” Kitner said.
Tsegaye said that the help of the community gave her and her sister the motivation to continue working toward reopening the cafe.
“If it weren’t for the community, it would have been so easy to give up,” Tsegaye said.