Madras Masala was in its twentieth year as a full-service Indian restaurant with a popular lunch buffet. Vape City had shared its Maynard St. building for fewer than two years when both businesses went up in smoke the morning of January 20.

Both owners say they intend to reopen as soon as they possibly can.

“I don’t know anything else. I know only cooking,” says Madras Masala owner and chef Gopalsamy Ramanujam, who bought the restaurant from friend and founder Murali Jayaraman in 2014. “I need to see what’s happening—same place or a different place?  I want to know that fast.”

Ramanujam is struggling without his restaurant routine and daily contact with customers, but he’s been buoyed by the emails and texts of support since that awful morning. “Ann Arbor people are more than like a family,” he says. “Thank you for all the concern, all the fire departments, everybody that worked hard that day.

“A very rare thing has happened, but still we keep running on that business called grace,” he says. “We’ll come back, 100 percent, and we’ll come back somewhere in Ann Arbor soon.”

Vape City co-owner Adwan Abed also acknowledges that “it was emotionally hard for us” to lose everything that he and his wife, Susanne Abujudeh, put into their store. He’s in negotiations for a new location and hopes to reopen within two months.