HUMBOLDT PARK — A crowdfunding campaign launched over the weekend to help Moto Guild Chicago recover from an arson fire that damaged its new location.
Moto Guild is a community workshop where riders pay a fee, either by the hour or month, to store and work on their motorcycles and scooters. A fire ravaged its new location at 833 N. Albany Ave. on July 12. Police said it was caused when someone torched a stolen vehicle just outside the building.
In an email to members last week Tony Riccardi, Moto Guild’s owner, said his shop’s “capital equipment, electronic data, valuable records and paperwork, furniture, computers, money, art, and displays [were] lost” in the fire.
“I set up the GoFundMe because I’ve been going to Moto Guild for almost two years, it’s like a second home to me,” said Paul Sales. He rides a Yamaha FZ6 and says that if someone doesn’t have a garage and lives in Chicago, they don’t really have a spot to work on their bikes or scooters. That’s why he says Moto Guild has become such a home away from home for its members.
“And Tony works so hard, it’s his baby. He needs all the support he can get right now. He’s a really upstanding guy and has taught not only me, but hundreds of people about what being a motorcyclist means,” said Sales. “I think it really helps that Moto Guild really built a community, not only around motorcycles and scooters, but for people in Chicago who don’t even own bikes.”
The GoFundMe campaign was created by Sales on Saturday with the goal of helping cover the cost of rebuilding the shop’s Humboldt Park location and to finance any expenses not covered by the insurance company. As of Monday it had raised $810 of its $20,000 goal.
Since May 30, Moto Guild had been moving out of its location at 2213 W. Grand Ave and into the larger space at 833 N. Albany Ave. The new space was slated to open sometime in July and, as part of the move, improvements were being made to the building like new lighting, bathrooms and overhead doors.
“From a personal aspect, it’s pretty much like losing a loved one,” said Riccardi, about the fire. “But the outpouring of kind words from social media and phone calls from current and past customers, it keeps me going.”
And on Monday a second GoFundMe campaign went live to help the members of Chicago Vespisti, a group of vintage scooter riders who used Moto Guild as their unofficial clubhouse. The fire damaged the group’s tools, spare parts and engines as well as a few Vespas stored at the shop, according group member Andreas Brandl. He’s been a Moto Guild member since 2016 and rides a 1964 Vespa GL.
“A brand new p200 engine was damaged, its metal was warped and it has lots of burnt rubber. We don’t know what fell into the engine,” he said. “And speciality parts from Germany, handcrafted, were badly damaged as well.”
Moto Guild was also going to be one of the sponsors of this year’s Slaughterhouse Scooter Rally — Chicago’s longest running scooter rally held every Labor Day weekend for the past 24 years.
“We had arranged a breakfast at Moto Guild for everyone and were going to have vintage cars and scooters there. We wanted to have a nice event that people were going to talk about and now it’s all up in smoke,” said Brandl “I’m trying to be optimistic and hopefully we can do something still. We’re moving on and pushing forward with Tony and trying to help each other out. ”