Owner of Tops Pizza claims he was mislead by insurance company

A small business owner in Manotick is reeling after finding out the insurance he bought more than a decade ago won’t cover the costs of rebuilding.

Khoder El-Didi’s store, Tops Pizza, was destroyed in a fire on May 21st along with three other local shops. The fire was apparently sparked by wires in another shop’s attic and caused more than one million dollars.

“I started from scratch here,” El-Didi said. “Every day from nine until midnight, I don’t see my family; I see my customers.”

El-Didi purchased Tops Pizza around 2007 and worked there almost every single day until it burnt down. He said the restaurant is where he spent time with his kids, and where his children made many of their most cherished memories.

“It’s been really hard on us,” said Farah El-Didi, Khoder’s 19-year-old daughter. “That’s all we talk about when we are eating and when he is sleeping, he mutters Tops Pizza. It’s all that matters to him right now.”

El-Didi said he bought fire coverage back in the mid-2000s when he purchased the pizza place. He said he went with a company he had been using for years and felt confident in. At the time, he said they sent an inspector to itemize his equipment and to estimate its worth. That’s when he was repeatedly reassured that he had enough coverage to replace his equipment and rebuild in case of a fire or other major incident.

“They said your store is insured, just don’t worry about it,” El-Didi said. “You have full coverage… Now I feel like they have the umbrella on me and when it starts raining they just take it away.”

El-Didi said he filed a claim and received about $63,000 from the insurance company, while the costs of rebuilding and replacing the pizza ovens and other equipment is more than $200,000.

“When I needed them, they turned my back on me,” said El-Didi.

“He has never been through this,” said his 22-daughter Sarah El-Didi.” It’s really heartbreaking because he doesn’t deserve any of this.”

El-Didi admits he never read the policy line-by-line, and instead took the insurance company at its word. He said the document was too complicated for anyone without specific expertise to understand and said next time he will have a friend with experience in insurance read everything over.

CTV News reached out to the company but it has yet to comment.