For the past five years, Doug Murphy and Steve Mudge have become well-known as the owners of Yankee Cafe. The duo opened their Henley Beach cafe back in October 2013, building up a loyal customer base of locals.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that the couple made an announcement via Facebook that they had sold their beloved cafe to new owners, and shared their plans to move across to the south island of New Zealand.
“It’s been a dream of ours for some time now to hand build a house and we got some land in NZ a couple of years back,” said the post.
Doug, who is originally from Seattle, said they were chasing the cooler climate, and once the new house was complete, they planned to turn it into an Airbnb.
But with only a few weeks to go until they handed over the keys to the cafe, their plans hit a significant snag when Yankee Cafe was extensively damaged by fire on December 5.
“We had gone out to dinner and we’d forgotten to take our phone with us so we didn’t know about it until when we got home,” said Doug.
“That’s not a feeling anyone wants to have. It’s a terrible feeling.”
The fire, which started from a fault in the deep fryer, caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage, and has meant the sale of the cafe can no longer go ahead.
“Settlement was supposed to be on the 17th [of December]. But obviously the sale’s off and I’ve returned the deposit,” said Doug.
While the couple still hope to move to New Zealand in the new year, the fire has left them with extensive and unexpected costs.
In a bid to help out, regular customer Suzzanne Bonnici-Nerlich has set up a Go Fund Me account with the aim of raising $25,000 to help the couple get back on their feet.
Doug said they have been overwhelmed with the response from the community since the fire.
“I just want to thank everybody for their support. We’ve got hundreds of messages on Facebook, and texts and phone calls. And people kept asking if they can help,” he said.
You can support the GoFundMe campaign here.