Fire heavily damages Gregoria’s Kitchen

Jan. 30, 2013 @ 05:21 PM

An early-morning fire Wednesday heavily damaged Gregoria’s Kitchen, a Cuban restaurant at 2818 Chapel Hill Road.

The owner said it could be two months before it reopens.

Fire officials said no one was hurt

Dan Curia, interim chief of the Durham Fire Department, said firefighters got the call at 1:10 a.m. to the two-story, wood-frame restaurant and had to force their way inside. He said firefighters searched the building and found no one.

Curia said 29 firefighters from five stations were at the scene about two hours. He said the cause of the fire was being investigated Wednesday, and that the exact origin of the blaze had not been pinpointed.

Restaurant owner Fares Hanna said he got a call from the security system company that an alarm was going off, then got a call a few minutes later that the restaurant was on fire. He arrived to find fire trucks and police cars there.

Hanna said the building was extensively damaged. He said a general contractor told him it will take about two months to reopen.

“The whole attic is burned down, the ceiling is charred, so [we’ll] have to replace all of that,” he said.

Gregoria’s Kitchen employs 12 people, Hanna said. He plans to move some staff to other businesses he owns. Hanna owns two eateries at Duke University: Blue Express, and Twinnie’s Café.

“Everybody, hopefully, will have a job,” he said.

Gregoria’s opened in September of 2011 at 2818 Chapel Hill Road in a building that housed a Peddler Steakhouse.

Hanna said Gregoria’s has grown and that business had been good.

“We were doing really great in the location,” he said. “We had a very strong week last week and this week was very strong … [We were] looking forward to Valentine’s.”

Hanna said he opened the restaurant to bring something different to the area. He had been talking to the restaurant’s chef, Dania Gonzalez, for years about opening the eatery. He said she’s been working for him about 15 years.

Customers on the networking website Facebook have offered to help with the cleanup. He said a professional company has already begun work.