Paradise businesses recover after the fire


Nic’s is one of the few restaurants in Paradise that reopened after the fire. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

Many local businesses in Paradise had to close following the Camp Fire. Many businesses either had their buildings and inventory burned, or owners were unable to return to their business, leaving rows of empty buildings in the town.

One year later, as the town continues to rebuild, businesses new and old are popping up around town.

Inside the studio
Stepping inside the ballet studio has a well maintained stage like flooring where students could practice their dancing. Photo credit: Hana Beaty
ballet studio copy.jpg
Since the originalNorthern California Ballet studio got burned down from the fire they recently got relocated to a new building in Paradise. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

Northern California Ballet, a local ballet studio, has been able to continue its business shortly after the fire. Artistic director Trudi Angel said it’s because of the type of business they are in.

“We had to make a decision right after the fire to come back right away because if you don’t, you will lose too many students,” Angel said. “If you decide ‘well we’re gonna close for a month or two or three,’ you may as well close your doors forever.”

Ballet Costumes
The owners of the studio had lost all their costumes so they have to find new costumes for their students. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

The studio was in the middle of their production of “The Nutcracker” when the fire struck. In the fire’s wake, the studio lost its costumes and sets for upcoming performances.

Despite this, people were quick to contribute to the show, ensuring they could perform in January.

“A professional company, Eugene Ballet…their director called me right afterwards and said ‘we finished our “Nutcracker”, if you want to do a Nutcracker in January, we’ll send everything we have to you and you can use it,’” Angel said.

Others also stepped in with donations for the studio.

“Without being asked, we got donations, monetary and costumes and things like that from all over the world— locally, Stuttgart, Japan, Australia,” Angel said. “We literally got truckloads of stuff sent to us and that helped us through to get to where we are now.”

Angel said they wanted to continue so soon after the fire because of the industry they represent, the students and the community.

“Understand that these students lost their school, lost their homes, lost their connection to their friends because their friends moved away… and so the only nucleus they really had was right here at the studio,” Angel said.

Trudi Angel
Trudi Angel, the artistic director of the sudio, talks about how the fire impacted her ballet studio. Photo credit: Hana Beaty

Today, the company is making progress toward where they were before the fire. They are working on building a new studio where their old building was and they are continuing to build the student population.

“We have built our student base again, not to what it was, but we’re about to maybe 50%, which is really pretty good,” Angel said.

While Northern California Ballet was able to quickly spring back, not all businesses had the same option.

Nicki Jones, who owned multiple businesses in town before the fire, has been working on rebuilding and opening a new business for the town. Her returning store, a women’s clothing store called Bobbi’s Boutique, has been re-opened since April of this year, while the new business, a restaurant named Nic’s, opened only six weeks ago.

Both businesses have been met with community support.

“I opened the clothing store in April and my sales compared to what they were the same time period the year before actually exceeded my expectations,” Jones said. “The people of Paradise, whether they’re still in Paradise or they’re in Chico or Oroville, if they’re within a driving distance they come to support our stores, my businesses, and our town. That’s been very heartwarming.”

The decision to open a restaurant, according to Jones, is due to what the building was before she bought it for her businesses.

“The building housed a wine room a year or two ago, I kind of wanted to follow the same theme,” Jones said.

Nic’s is also a way for Jones to give back to her community.

“I wanted to have a gathering place for people in the community where they can come in and feel comfortable and warm and laugh and talk and feel normal,” Jones said.

The restaurant has also provided jobs for those from Paradise who may have lost their previous jobs in the fire.

“We have 15 employees and all but one or two are from Paradise and many of them lost their homes,” Jones said. “So for me and our manager, I’m happy because we’re serving the community, we’re helping people who have lost jobs, so it’s like a win-win.”

Nic’s and Bobbi’s Boutique are both stationed on Skyway. Northern California Ballet will have another production of “The Nutcracker” in December.

Jessie Imhoff can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JessieReports.