Sweet Basil owner ‘overwhelmed’ with support following fire

Charli Singh in front of his fire-damaged Sweet Basil restaurant, which he plans to rebuild.

Charli Singh in front of his fire-damaged Sweet Basil restaurant, which he plans to rebuild.

WICHITA – Sweet Basil owner Charli Singh was in bed around 4 a.m. Wednesday when an alarm went off alerting him to a problem at his restaurant at 2424 N. Woodlawn.

He says he figured it was a low battery or a similar nonissue that he could take care of quickly and then “go back home and sleep.”

“I didn’t really dress for the occasion,” says Singh, who was greeted at the restaurant with firefighters battling a blaze in the kitchen.

Since then, Singh says he’s felt a range of emotions, especially gratitude. He says he’s thankful no one was hurt, and he appreciates the firefighters.

“They did an excellent job in putting out the fire.”

Singh says he was amazed at how well organized the scene was. He says that though the kitchen was “destroyed,” firefighters were able to put out the blaze before structural damage occurred. He says he’s not sure how the fire started.

“It’s not something obvious, that’s for sure,” Singh says. He says nothing was left on or overheated.

Singh opened the 3,000-square-foot restaurant 23 years ago.

“It’s kind of sad,” he says of the fire, “but it’s OK. I’m coping with it.”

He says customers, employees and friends came to the site to be with him.

“That was great,” Singh says. “People showed up as early as 5 a.m. … I was just overwhelmed by the response.”

He says he’s planning to rebuild.

“We all just looked at it as a chance to start over,” Singh says. “If you have a clean slate, you just start with new ideas.”

He says he hopes to reopen in a month or two.

For now, Singh says, “I really just want to thank everybody for really showing a lot of support.”