The fire was reported just after 4:30 a.m. on West Park Avenue in Long Beach.
The stores impacted were a tattoo shop and Sorrento's Italian Specialties, a fixture in the community for nearly 20 years.
Fire officials say it took several hours to bring the blaze under control, with 18 departments and 100 firefighters at the location to battle the four-alarm fire.
"At one point, I did pull everybody out of the building because the ceiling started to collapse," Long Beach Fire Department Chief Jake Jacobi said.
Firefighters brought out the mementos in the morning as members of the community -- some loyal customers -- wondered what they will do now.
"It's a main stay of the area," Sorrento's customer Scott Nigro said. "I shopped here two, three times a week. They had the best mozzarella in the world, fresh Burrata, the meats were great. It's so sad."
By the time it was all over, no one could save what Pasquale Arpino and his family had built at Sorrento's Italian Specialties.
"It look like a bomb hit the building," Arpino said. "Imagine, they got to take everything down. What are you gonna do?"
Sorrento's Italian specialty shop was a place where the pizza and prosciutto were so legendary and so mouth watering that there was often not enough to go around.
"You have to call," customer Donna Delury said. "They ran out of dough, you come at 5:30, there's no dough. You can't have pizza."
Authorities say both businesses were damaged and will have to be torn down.
As for as how it was started, authorities do not believe the fire was suspicious.
Arpino said that his store had the "most beautiful time in the world, people from everyplace."
Next door, a newer business now gone. The tattoo studio, with all sorts of art and drawings, had opened 3 years ago this week.
"We were kind of on a roll, we just started to break even," Tattoo Studio owner Dan Henk said. "And then the pandemic hit."
The loss comes right at the start of one of the most profitable weekends of the summer season in Memorial Day Weekend.
It's more opportunities lost, in an already difficult year, but the community's loyalty is the reason they will undoubtedly re-build.
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