ORLANDO, Fla. – A fire broke out Friday morning and damaged Goff’s Drive In, an iconic Orlando ice cream shop. Investigators now believe the fire was intentionally set.
The Orlando Fire Department responded to the location on Orange Blossom Trail near Church Street. The department said the fire was contained to inside the building.
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Todd Peacock, the owner of the historic business, said the fire started in the bathroom.
The Orlando Fire Dept. Arson/Bomb Squad said its investigation so far shows the fire was caused by arson. It’s still reviewing video surveillance, lab testing and other evidence.
This is the second time this month the business was damaged. Goff’s Drive In posted on Facebook images from a surveillance camera that showed a man walking behind the building with a bag in his hand moments before smoke was seen coming from the shop on May 4.
“This guy went to the back of Goff’s and planted what appears to have been an explosive,” the business wrote. The fire department responded to that incident but said no criminal investigation was underway.
Peacock said he is devastated and since his grandmother died in February, it seems like “it’s one thing after the other.”
“The way this community has supported us. People can try to knock me down, but I ain’t going nowhere,” he said.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help rebuild the ice cream shop.
The historic business is turning 74 years old in June. Peacock took over the family business from his grandfather, Bill Truesdell. Truesdell bought the ice cream shop from Edwin Goff back in 1973 after working for Goff as a teen.
Peacock said the location is “a big landmark” and said in the days of segregation, the business didn’t believe in it.
In the peak of racial tensions in Florida, Goff’s tradition brought people together instead of dividing them. What was considered to be a very defiant act, Goff allowed both Blacks and whites to order in the same line at his Orlando business and continued to do so despite several warnings from the others in town who did not agree with his idea, according to the Goff family.
“We’ll rebuild (and) come back stronger,” Peacock said.
Anyone with information about the fire should contact Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).