Thursday, September 22, 2016

After the fire: Getting Caracas Arepa Bar back in business 'may take some time'

[Photo by EVG reader Joaquin]

As we first reported yesterday morning, a fire broke out at Caracas Arepa Bar, 93 E. Seventh St. just east of First Avenue.

No one was injured during the fire. (The FDNY has yet to determine the cause.)

EVG readers who saw the scorched space yesterday said that it looks in bad shape.

Here's a description of the damage from co-owner Maribel Araujovia via Grub Street:

While the street-facing front of Caracas was spared, half of the restaurant — including the kitchen, bathroom, refrigeration, part of the office, and the back half of the basement — essentially “burned down,” Araujo says. Walls are ruined, the basement was flooded with a foot and a half of water, and there is currently no electricity or gas.

Arujo was more blunt with Gothamist: "The restaurant is pretty fucked up."

The damage was contained to the restaurant.

As several EVG commenters noted, the FDNY was on the scene about 2:30 a.m. after residents reported smoke.

Per Gothamist:

Tenants on the second floor, who live directly above the restaurant, smelled smoke early this morning and the fire department was dispatched to the address around 2:30 a.m. The FDNY performed some kind of investigation but didn't find anything at the time, neighbors tell Araujo. The fire department was called again at 7:25 a.m. when the same neighbors awoke to find their apartment filled with more smoke.

While dealing with the temporary loss of her business, Araujo also has questions as to why the fire wasn't discovered earlier, which could have prevented things from getting quite so bad.

For now, the smaller Caracas space is open next door for counter service and to-go orders ... here are the signs that greet customers...

There's isn't any timeline on the restaurant's return. It likely won't be anytime soon, though.

To Grub Street:

“It’s not just a little thing we can fix quickly, put drywall up, and keep going,” Araujo says. Getting back to business will take some time: Leases and inventory need to be looked at, and conversations need to be had with lawyers and insurers. “Maybe we’ll relocate, maybe we’ll try to rebuild this one. At this point, I’m not sure.”

There's also a location in Williamsburg. The Venezuelan restaurant has been open on Seventh Street since 2003.

And here's their message to patrons ...


Anonymous said...

Will we ever get an explanation from the FDNY why they left the scene at 2:30am and didn't resolve anything?

Anonymous said...

It was great that the tenants contacted FDNY as it could have been much much worse. I wonder if the restaurant owner ever reached out to the upstairs tenants and ask them to contact the restaurant owner as well in case of any emergency situation as well as emergency services. Just seems like a good policy.

Anonymous said...


1. hard to plan that far ahead and 2. tenants change all the time

Anonymous said...

At least they have the to go spot, which I prefer anyway so I don't have to cram in with cornballs. Hopefully they always keep Caracas to Go even if the other doesn't re open there.

Anonymous said...

It's terrifying that there are restaurants on the ground floors of these old buildings. Modern structures have more fire-proofing built in, making it possible to more easily contain fires, but these old buildings weren't built with any of those safety considerations in mind because there weren't the same building codes 100 years ago. This could have been so much worse. Everyone is lucky and tenants need to lobby for wall and ceiling fire-proofing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:06 Yep tenants do change often but it does not seem that business owners care about who their neighbors are though they can provide important eyes and ears to their business. Not like the old days when biz owners were more community minded. Some biz owners are expressing interest in renting the apt above their store location as it makes it easier to protect their investments. Hope the restaurant had good insurance.

Anon 11:08 am and don't forget sound proofing though it is of little use when the windows and front door are opened.

Anonymous said...

I agree with one of the last commenters. As awful and shitty as it was, at least no one was injured or killed in what could have been a disaster. I am sure the owners have insurance and will be compensated somewhat. And yes, these old buildings are death traps. We all need to be careful, to act responsibly, and to look after one another as a community.

I walked past it today as I live on 7th street. It doesn't look good, but I am sure, in time, the owners will restore and clean it up. Best of luck to them.