PORT CHARLOTTE — As the owner and employees of the Kallis German Butcher Shop worked to clean up the mess from a Saturday fire that destroyed an external freezer, they were highly optimistic they would be able to meet all the demands of the upcoming Oktoberfest season, including supplying thousands of pounds of sausage for events in Punta Gorda and Cape Coral.
While still assessing the damage Monday, they planned to be once again open for business today, and looked forward to welcoming back all their regulars, many of whom are close with longtime manager Patty Lonski and owner Manfred Kallis.
“This is prime time because the snowbirds are coming back,” said Lonski. “You do this for 17 years, you end up knowing everyone’s name.”
Although the total amount of damage has yet to be compiled, Lonski estimates the butcher shop will have to shell out at least $20,000 to buy another freezer and replace all of the imported bread ruined in the fire.
The case is still being investigated by the state fire marshal, but spokeswoman Deborah Jamison said an early guess puts the damage at at least $100,000. Jamison couldn’t comment further because the investigation is ongoing.
The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office was previously looking for four boys captured on surveillance video riding bicycles in the alley at the rear of the store. All four boys were eventually located, questioned and released, according to a report from the CCSO.
The report also states the state fire marshal is investigating a possible accelerant used in the fire, but was not releasing any further details. Jamison could not comment.
The store, open for nearly three decades, is a true old-school butcher shop that makes all of its own German favorites like bratwurst and knockwurst, Lonski said. It will be providing at least 2,300 pounds of the sausage for the first week of the wildly popular Oktoberfest in Cape Coral, and plans to provide about 200 pounds for Friday’s Oktoberfest in Punta Gorda. It also makes schnitzel for the Germany pavilion at Epcot Center in Disney World, Lonski said.
With that much work on the horizon, and with winter residents slowly returning to Charlotte County, Lonski said the fire will only push the workload back a bit, but the business still will be able to get everything done in time.
“It’s a shame something like this would happen, but we’re going to bounce right back,” she said.