PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jasmine Nguyen, owner of the Hillsboro Pharmacy and Fountain, stands in a temporary location she rented for the historic pharmacy after the business' original location sustained smoke and water damage from a fire next door at the Weil Arcade on East Main Street.

Pamplin Media Group – Hillsboro Pharmacy, other businesses make progress after fire

The Hillsboro pharmacy and fountain are working towards full operation at the new location, while the Venetian plans to reopen.

The Hillsboro Pharmacy and Fountain are progressing to have a fully operational pharmacy again, says owner Jasmine Nguyen.

Nguyen quickly began looking for a temporary location after a massive fire occurred on January 2 next to the Weil Arcade in downtown Hillsboro, destroying the windows of eight businesses. Police arrested a Hillsboro resident suspected of arson in connection with the blaze a few days later.

A combination of firefighting efforts and building design, firefighters say, prevented the fire from spreading to the pharmacy – Hillsboro’s oldest running business – leaving it with repairable smoke and water damage.

Nguyen finalized a lease for a temporary location at 155 SE Second Ave. days after the fire. She and her employees worked overtime to get the space up and running, Nguyen said.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A view from a fence erected around the scene of a January 2 4-alarm fire at Weil Arcade on East Main Street in downtown Hillsboro.The support of community members since the fire helped make progress. On Saturday, January 8, a group of volunteers helped move the undamaged materials from the original location at 243 E. Main St. to the temporary location, which they also helped paint. Volunteers included Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway and City Councilors Rick Van Beveren and Beach Pace.

“I feel surprised and blessed to be in this community,” Nguyen said of the support. “It makes a big difference.”

The effort to move usable materials from the original to the temporary location continued on Wednesday 12 January.

But there are many more steps ahead before the pharmacy can be fully operational again, Nguyen said.

She needs to build a counter and install computers, she said, adding that she plans to go to Eugene to buy new drug racks at the only store she could find that has the right ones.

An internet provider should have the online pharmacy within a day, Nguyen said, allowing pharmacists to process prescription payments.

After the fire, he filled prescriptions at the other two pharmacies that customers can pick up in Hillsboro. With no working computers in Hillsboro, customers had to pay in cash, she said.

Nguyen says the inconvenience, as well as the traffic delay when her husband arrives in Hillsboro with full recipes, has frustrated some customers.

“I understand, but we’re doing our best,” Nguyen said.

While she and her employees are still working to reschedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments taken before the fire, the pharmacy is about to deliver about 20 shots to people in the temporary position, Nguyen said.

PMG PHOTOS: JAIME VALDEZ - Jasmina Saric, an employee at the Hillsboro Pharmacy and Fountain, set up a shelf on Wednesday January 12 at the pharmacy's temporary location on Second Avenue.Hopefully, he hopes to have the temporary headquarters fully operational next week, he said.

The timeline could have been extended much longer, Nguyen said. Officials from the Oregon Board of Pharmacy and Drug Enforcement Administration were sympathetic to the pharmacy situation and worked with Nguyen to process the licenses for her new address faster than usual, she said. Those trials took weeks when she did it in the original pharmacy location, Nguyen said.

One thing that can’t be moved from the original location to the new one is the pharmacy kitchen and soda fountain, which Nguyen says she’s committed to maintaining when she is able to reopen on Main Street.

Kathy Schmidlkofer, director of the pharmacy for 37 years, says that between the pandemic and the fire, the counter service at the soda fountain has probably had more disruptions in the past two years than in previous decades.

Schmidlkofer said she was particularly pleased that the soda fountain was not damaged in the fire, as much of its equipment was likely installed in the mid-20th century.

PHOTO PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Kathy Schmidlkofer, manager of the Hillsboro Pharmacy and Fountain, sets up the materials on Wednesday, January 12 at the temporary location of the pharmacy at 155 SE Second Ave. “It still works like a charm,” said Schmidlkofer, adding that it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to replace.

Some of the eight businesses that were displaced by the fire were able to reopen temporary locations nearby.

Other businesses on Main Street that have suffered less severe impacts from the fire or firefighting efforts continue to work towards reopening.

On Wednesday, workers were cleaning and removing smoke-damaged materials that flooded the Venetian Hillsboro, located three storefronts east of the Weil Arcade, as the restaurant’s ventilation system was open and running during the fire.

John Lee, owner of the Venetian, says he feels lucky the fire hasn’t spread to other buildings. He plans to reopen the restaurant by January 20.

But he says the fire killed the momentum toward organizing regular special events at the Venetian. After acquiring the building in 2020, Lee began renovations, transforming what used to be a nearly 400-seat theater into an event space.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A cleaning team works to remove the smoke smell from the kitchen at the Venetian Hillsboro, which circulated smoke from a January 2 fire at the Weil Arcade.“We were just finishing the ballroom, just raised the curtains, just pulled down the flood, everything was ready to go, and now here we are again,” Lee said.

He added that he had to cancel an event to celebrate the New Year scheduled days after the fire, which would be the first event there.

Lee said the cleaning staff made a lot of progress in removing the smoke smell after the fire. She might linger a bit when the restaurant reopens, he told her, adding with a laugh that the chef and bartenders might lean on the smell of smoke with their offerings.

PHOTO PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - John Lee stands in the event space of the Venetian Hillsboro, which was engulfed in smoke from a fire on January 2 at the Weil Arcade, located just a few shops away.

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