Friday, May 17, 2024

After a fire upstairs, a gutted TabeTomo hopes to reopen on Avenue A in August

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

TabeTomo remains closed after an early morning fire upstairs at 131 Avenue A on April 24

According to ABC 7, five residents sustained minor injuries while fleeing the six-floor building on the NW corner of St. Mark's Place. Firefighters recovered a lithium-ion battery from a unit, per ABC 7. 

At TabeTomo, a tskumen specialty shop, owner Tomo Kubo (below) told me yesterday that reconstruction of his restaurant is expected to start in the week ahead.
Once underway, Kubo hopes that renovations will be complete in two to three months — with an eye on reopening in August if all goes well. 

The business was insured, he said. 

"It costs a lot — very expensive," he said of the gut renovation ahead. "We want to renovate and reopen as soon as possible." 

Kubo ushered me inside the space, where the air was still thick with the smell of a fire. 

"There was no fire damage — all the damage was water," he said. "Between the ceiling and the second floor, there was much damage to the wood, which could warp. And we want to avoid mold. It's not a good environment for food. We cannot sell food in here now." 

The interior has been stripped to its studs.
Tubo is grateful for all the support from neighbors. He also praised the FDNY for their quick response. 

"I appreciate people who care about the store and encourage me, and I care about the employees who work here," he said. "Since it takes so long to renovate, I am worried, Will customers return? It's heartwarming that people in the East Village care. This gave me confidence and a reason to reopen." 

The TabeTomo staff onsite yesterday (from the left): Esan, Victorino, Tomo Kubo and Abe Naoto.

On May 8, some tenants of 131 Avenue A rallied outside the building in conjunction with the Cooper Square Committee. 

The concerned tenants demanded that landlord Citi-Urban adequately address problems, such as cleaning smoke- and water-damaged units and allowing residents who feel unsafe to move out without penalty. Tenants, some of whom had to navigate rusted fire escapes, said that this was the second fire in the building in the past six months, the other occurring on Nov. 8.


Anonymous said...

Terrible shame to see this happen and a reminder just how dangerous lithium ion batteries are if you don't treat them safely. It's encouraging to see Tomo's attitude though and it's something you always want to see more and more of in your neighborhood: A determined, thoughtful response to a really shitty hand he was dealt. We all could only be so lucky to remain so graceful under so much stress.

Anonymous said...

They were the one bright spot on Avenue A during the pandemic: music, good food and good vibes out of the front of the restaurant during a very stressful time. They deserve better than being flooded out!

Annie said...

This is devastating. I feel so sorry for the tenants. The lithium battery crisis in the city is out of control.

Mark said...

This is terrible. I was employed in many local NYC restaurants for years as a bartender and waiter. One day without business is soul crushing, not to mention for an indefinite period of time with staff members not accruing income. I hope they will open soon. It's assuring they are pushing through and willing to make sacrifices.

Anonymous said...

Wishing them a quick recovery. If you have not been to TabeTomo and ordered the tsukemen dipping noodles then you must imbibe. They stand alone in a city full of noodle/ramen shops - it's truly a special dish.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate to hear. TabeTomo is my favorite ramen restaurant in NYC. Tomo is an awesome mam with positive energy and optimism. I will definitely visit and support as much as I can once they re-open.