"This is the third kick in the gut."
Toronto's largest arcade bar has had to shut down after a fire tore through it last weekend.
Evan Oswald, the owner of Tilt Toronto, shared with Narcity that his employees were setting up for what would have been a busy Saturday when the fire alarm went off.
"When they reached me, they noticed smoke started to come through the crack in the wall from the ceiling and the brick where the pinball machines were," Oswald said, and added that his staff then immediately called 911.
Toronto Fire attended a two-alarm fire at the bar, where, they said in a tweet, no less than eight people were displaced from the building. A Toronto firefighter was temporarily hospitalized but has been released, they said.
A 2-alarm fire at 826 Dundas St. W. displaced no less than 8 persons this afternoon. One Toronto firefighter was temporarily hospitalized but has since been released. The Office of Emergency Management has been engaged for occupants requiring temporary shelter. #Toronto— Toronto Fire Services (@Toronto Fire Services) 1651963890
"Thank God, you know. God bless every single one of them. I'd never ask anybody to run in my property to save my personal property and risk their lives but that's what Toronto Fire did that day, and it really meant the difference of Tilt being able to rebuild or not rebuild because you can not purchase these items," Oswald said.
From the security cameras, Oswald could see that the whole bar was "filling up with water," and said that water poured down the stairs to the basement "like a waterfall."
Oswald is now dealing with his insurance, who he says is trying to "wiggle out of their responsibility for the policy," and figure out what can be done for the bar and his staff.
A GoFundMe has been set up
Oswald created the fundraiser because he felt that the bar would need it.
"We are finally going to have to reach out and ask for help," the GoFundMe page reads.
After the first location at Brunswick was "sold out from under" them and the impact of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fire last weekend prompted the bar owner to ask for help so they can re-build.
"It's like every time Tilt Toronto makes money, something takes it so it goes down. This is the third kick in the gut," Oswald told Narcity.
At the time of this article's publication, the campaign has raised $16,180 of its $100,000 goal. Some of the donors wrote kind words about Tilt, as a few people shared that it's one of their favourite spots in Toronto and wished the retro arcade bar the best in its recovery.
"I love this business like it's my child," Oswald told Narcity in between tears.
"I really want to thank everybody that's come to Tilt."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.