A fire the night of Thursday, January 3, 2013, at the El Rey Supermarket at 5200West Oklahoma caused nearly half a million dollars in damage (including the damage or destruction of almost $300,000 worth of food and other inventory). Security footage of two men running from the scene has led to the arrest of two teenagers for arson.
Flames were so intense that carts in the cart corral melted, and firefighters remained on the on the scene on Friday to fight the blaze. There had been no threats to the store, which opened in October, 2011.
Neighborhood supporters of the locally-owned grocery chain have been volunteering to help clear the fire’s debris. The Oklahoma Avenue store carries a variety of ethnic foods-- Polish and Serbian in addition to Hispanic foods-- and has attracted a loyal following.
As store employees filled dumpsters with ruined inventory, others worked on the damage to the building. Nelson Lang, store manager, said that they hope to have the store open again by January 15th.
In the meantime, the other El Rey stores owned by the Villareal family in the Milwaukee area remain open for business as usual.