The owners of a family-run takeaway store that burnt down have vowed to return after a poll found it was the most popular fish and chip shop in Ballarat.
Speaking on behalf of his parents, Charlie Zhe said they were doing the best they could after receiving the shock news the Fair Dinkum fish and chip shop had been gutted in a suspicious fire along Doveton Street North on Friday.
“It hasn’t been long since we took over this shop and it has been great,” he said.
“Thanks to all of our customers who supported us during the past months.
“We are glad to announce that we will be staying and will rebuild a brand new shop with our property owner as soon as possible, so please don't forget us over the next few months.”
The big fire, which took four CFA trucks to contain in over half an hour, came on the same day The Courier conducted a survey into who did the best fish and chips in Ballarat.
Fair Dinkum scraped to victory with 229 votes, closely followed by the Arch on Sturt Street with 226 votes and Pleasant Street Take Away on 212 votes.
CHECK OUT THE TOP 10 HERE AS VOTED BY YOU
Charlie, whose family lives in Bacchus Marsh where they used to run George’s fish and chip shop, said their landlord in Ballarat planned on rebuilding as soon as possible.
The 17-year-old said his family received a phone call from emergency workers late on Friday informing them about the fire about 11pm.
“It was quite a shock,” he said.
“I was about to get in bed in Bacchus and we got a call saying your shop is on fire. It is quite sad, but we’re still keeping it together.”
Arson squad detectives were yet to determine the cause of the blaze.
They were investigating possible links to a man who witnesses claim threw an object through a window of the shop before it burst into flames.
But it had not been determined if it was an incendiary object or if it was responsible for the fire.
Building owner Greg Parry had previously said Charlie’s family had turned the business into a popular fish and chip shop since they took over nine months ago.
“It is pretty disappointing, especially for the tenants,” he said.
“It was a good fish and chip shop, but we will rebuild.
“They’ve invested a significant amount and I’d say they’d want to rebuild it too.”
The weatherboard structure was heavily damaged but its brick facade still stood.
The fire came a week after the Lake Wendouree Adventure Playground was defaced in an arson attack.
Anyone with information about Friday night’s fire is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to crimestoppersvic.com.au.
VIEW THE FULL RESULTS HERE