What was that bang?
On 27 December 2021, Belconnen residents were asking the same question, and with good reason.
At about 7:30 pm on the Monday evening, an almighty explosion erupted within the Turkish Kebab and Pizza shop on Rae Street, rattling window panes and knocking pictures from walls across the suburb.
The shop owner was badly burnt, and several surrounding shops were hit by debris and had their windows shattered.
There was nothing sinister about it, with ACT emergency services tracking the cause down to aerosol fumigation cans which had accidentally ignited.
But Jazaa Halal Foods, Liang’s Restaurant, C3 Church Belconnen and the AutoCo smash repair shop all faced lengthy insurance dealings and repairs over the ensuing months. Many shopfronts had to be demolished and rebuilt from the ground up.
The district’s main Kingsley’s Chicken shop, at 1 Rae Street, was also boarded up.
On 14 December 2022, the owners took to social media to announce plans to reopen in January.
“The Belconnen store rebuild has only just commenced and the builder has informed that with Christmas, etc, it will take about five weeks to be reinstated,” the post read.
But after 17 long months, Belconnen residents were finally able to get their fix of “unbelievable chicken, awesome chips” on Friday, 12 May.
“So bloody fresh and tasty,” one shared to the Canberra Notice Board Group on Facebook.
“I’m one happy girl,” wrote another.
Franchise employee Ranjeet put the delay down to complications with insurance over water and electricity connections.
“It was delayed due to the insurance companies,” she told Region.
“We didn’t get the water pipeline and electricity for a while, and we didn’t have electricity at all in here – that was the main concern.”
While the store may not have been completely obliterated like Turkish Kebab and Pizza was, Ranjeet said “the whole store was damaged”.
“All the roof and glassing and computers – everything was broken.”
Kingsley’s wasn’t the only one to have insurance issues.
The owners of Jazaa Halal Food Shop, Sumaira and Mohammed Ikram, had only opened a month before the explosion and hadn’t found the funds to pay for anything more than basic insurance. Liang’s Restaurant was in a similar boat. Neither has reopened yet.
Ranjeet said all their casual staff left after the explosion, and the owners were only propped up by their other business, Kingsley’s Chicken at the Kippax Fair shopping centre, also in Belconnen.
But since reopening, they’ve been “very busy”.
“The store looks very nice, and we are a lot busier than we were before, obviously because people are very excited to see we’re back in the same place.”
Kingsley’s Chicken at 1 Rae Street, Belconnen, is open from 10:30 am to 9:15 pm, seven days a week.
CORRECTION: This article previously incorrectly stated Ranjeet was wife to Kingsley’s Belconnen franchise owner Azhar Javed.