Christian DeLuca at Brea Lu’s current Westbrook location. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch every day. Mikayla Patel / American Journal

Restaurants and small businesses in and around Westbrook have mobilized to raise money for the employees of Brea Lu after a fire two weeks ago at its new location damaged thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

Owners of The Daily Grind in Westbrook and The Sinful Kitchen in Portland have organized a raffle, silent auction and pig roast for May 12 in Westbrook. The fundraiser will benefit Brea Lu and its employees, who will lose about a month of work due to the fire.

Brea Lu’s last day in business at the current space in Cumberland Mills is April 23. Owners Christian and Anna DeLuca had hoped to host events at their new Westbrook site before getting their restaurant fully up and running about June 1, but the fire scuttled those plans.

Denae and Dave Mallari at The Sinful Kitchen. Mikayla Patel / American Journal

The March 31 fire destroyed bathroom stall doors, a stove hood system, new wood for tables and a walk-in cooler, which were all being stored in an outbuilding at 331 Main St.

Insurance should cover the lost equipment, but the claims process is slow and it’s unclear when they’ll get the money, DeLuca said.

“We had to take a loan out on our house. We said we’d never do that,” he said.


This is the second fire the family business has faced, with the first one destroying its original Portland location of 30 years. They didn’t get any outside financial support then.

The response this time, however, has been significantly different, DeLuca said.

“I got messages from every business owner,” he said. “People take care of each other here.”

Joe Salisbury, a local firefighter who owns The Daily Grind on Main Street in Westbrook with his wife Sue, said he and DeLuca went to high school together and it was “a no brainer” that he would do something to help support them and their employees.

“Employees lose out a lot without tips,” Salisbury said, even if they collect unemployment benefits while the restaurant is closed.

The DeLucas have “seven employees here who depend on us,” DeLuca said.


While their job is to serve the community, his top priority he said is always making sure the employees are taken care of. “That’s our biggest responsibility.”

Soon after the fire, Salisbury contacted the co-owners of The Sinful Kitchen on Brighton Avenue in Portland, Denae and Dave Mallari. The couple was eager to get involved with a fundraiser because Brea Lu and The Daily Grind had a fundraiser for them when they had a restaurant fire in December of 2021.

“They had helped us out and I’ve known them for years,” Dave Mallari. “This is our way of paying it back.”

Mallari, who also owns The Pig Kahuna pig roast catering service, first got to know the DeLucas when he catered their wedding rehearsal dinner. Seventeen years later, he’ll be roasting a pig again for the couple.

“You feed a lot of people for a very low amount of money, so it raises more money,” Mallari said.

The Mallaris said people and small businesses from around Westbrook have reached out to them to offer donations and auction items and help out however they can.


“The community always comes out in droves,” Salisbury said.

With the fundraiser for The Sinful Kitchen, he said, the goal was to raise $3,000 to $5,000, and they ended up raising about $10,000.

Although Westbrook has grown over the years, Salisbury said, “it still feels like a small town” because of how eager community members are to take care of each other and show support for their neighbors.

DeLuca agrees.

“People are so generous here,” he said, adding that he and his wife feel very “ingrained in the community” in a way they never did at the Portland location.

DeLuca said that as a restaurant worker, “you’re not used to people being nice to you – I’m not, at least.” The donations, kind messages and willingness to lend a hand has been “very overwhelming,” he said.

The fundraiser will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 12 at the American Legion, 112 Dunn St. Food will be served from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Music and a cash bar will also be available. Tickets are $25, $15 for children under 12, and can be purchased at

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