Whanganui Mexican restaurant La Quattro is open again - after a closure of five weeks due to the Thain's building fire.
For five weeks owner Manjot Singh had to pay wages and rent for the building while its doors were shut.
"It was out of our hands. There was nothing to do, just waiting and waiting," he said.
When the Thain's building at 1 Victoria Ave caught fire on July 20, La Quattro was having a busy Saturday night. Staff started smelling smoke, but thought it was something burning in the kitchen.
Then police and a woman from the Thai Villa restaurant next door came in and told everyone to evacuate. Customers had to put down their knives and forks and walk out the door.
Singh and his staff turned off the electricity and gas.
"We just had to walk out and leave everything."
He stayed outside for several hours to watch the firefighters, thinking he would be able to go back inside and clean up.
But he didn't get back inside until Monday, July 22, and on the Wednesday was told the restaurant would be closed for 28 days for health and safety reasons. He removed documents and had to throw out food because refrigerators were not working.
He had interruption of business insurance, but there wasn't much cover. He had a grand reopening night on August 29, with drink and menu specials, and hoped business would be back on track soon.
It doesn't help that parking in front of his restaurant is blocked off by road cones.
"If there's no parking - no customers," he said.
Origins Cafe owner David Morgan, next door, was also feeling the effect. Parking outside his business was blocked off every day last week, and he said takings were down $100 a day.
His mother Sue Morgan said Whanganui District Council parking staff should make those car parks free while demolition continued - but Whanganui and Partners commercial lead Rhonda Morris said the car parks had to be closed for safety and site accessibility.
Whanganui and Partners has been working with all the nearby businesses, making sure customers know they are still open and keeping them informed about demolition progress. There is other parking available nearby, Morris said.
"We do appreciate their frustration at the lack of access."
Rubble will be moved out of the interior of the Thain's building this week, Central Demolition project co-ordinator Peter Butcher said, and the whole site could be cleared in two weeks.
Workers have been recycling everything they can from the building, including sections of flooring and the bricks. After the high walls came down, it was safe enough to let fire and police forensic investigators in to search for clues about how the fire started.
The demolition has also disrupted everyday life for the owner of the AE Kitchen building, Kerry Girdwood, who lives upstairs in it. She was evacuated for one night and said the demolition has meant two weeks of constant shaking and noise.
Also badly hit was the Thai Villa restaurant business next door to Thain's, and sharing part of a wall. It is still behind a barrier and said to have water damage to its roof.
No one is answering calls to its landline, and Girdwood said the owner had gone to Thailand.