GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) — Just off of Grand Island Boulevard sits Tai Pei Chinese Restaurant. It's a favorite of many on Grand Island, but that favorite is now destroyed.
"This was their version of the American dream," family friend and frequent patron Victoria Huang said. A fire took everything back in November. All that's left inside is a cash drawer, a bottle of pop and a bug zapper.
"It just hurts me to see their hopes and dreams basically destroyed," Huang said. Tai Pei owner Mei Yan Li and her family are devastated. She's desperately hoping to reopen quickly. He cousin, Yaling Chen, acted as her translator.
"The day the accident happened, I feel like the sky was falling down and I couldn't fall asleep for days, and the kids were crying at home," Li said.
Li says she was told ongoing roof repairs sparked it. Fire investigators estimate $200,000 in damages, but Li says insurance will barely cover a fraction of that.
"We're not even closer to resolve the issue today than the day the fire started," Li said.
Huang added, "This is her only source of income and I knew she wouldn't want people to think she was asking for handouts, so I though I did what was best by asking people of the community to help out."
After the fire, Huang started this GoFundMe with a $10,000 goal. She's calling on the Grand Island community to help give the Li family back their American dream.
"Five dollars can help, $1, I really just want to help them rebuild as soon as possible," Huang said.
"If we can reopen it, we wish to try our best to make a more delicious food for the people on the island," Li said.