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Community support continues to pour in for Manny's owner a month after fire

By HILARY LANE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Manny's Cheesecake Bakery may have burnt down more than a month ago, but the pain isn't getting any easier to handle for owner Richard Alpert.

"It's getting sadder by the day. I have a hard time now even driving by there," says Alpert. "I try to avoid it sometimes. It hurts."

Alpert has been told by the fire department that the cause is electrical in nature. According to Utica Fire Chief Russel Brooks, an investigation is still underway and final results are expected by the end of the week.

Alpert's father started the business and it's been an important part of the family dynamic ever since.

"My kids grew up there. I changed their diapers and it's a part of our family and as I say, it is a home," says Alpert.

Alpert did not have fire insurance. He says he will be meeting with Utica Mayor David Roefaro and United States Senator Schumer next week to discuss clean-up options.

Alpert does not know what his next move will be, but he says he has gotten dozens of calls from people looking to invest, partner, or buy the business.

"There is one thing that is definitely going to happen and I am not sure if it is going to be a few months, six months, but the Manny's sign will be up there again somewhere," says Alpert.

There certainly has been no shortage of support from the local residents who miss the delicious taste of the cheesecakes.

"If I had the money, I would give it to him myself to rebuild," says Norine Fields, an Elm Street resident. "Something needs to be done".

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