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February 24, 2009 at 7:15 AM

Fire puts Perche No Pasta & Vino on ice — temporarily

From the outside, things don’t look bad at Perche No Pasta & Vino, the family friendly Italian restaurant and wine bar near Green Lake:

The view indoors tell another story: an estimated $200,000 damage sustained after a Saturday morning fire, much of it smoke-related. Downstairs on the main floor, the exhibition kitchen appears mostly unscathed, though smoke damage is apparent throughout:

The fire, which began in the prep kitchen, was accidental according to the Seattle Fire Department, and indeed, the hidden kitchen in back bore the brunt of the damage:

Monday owners Lily and David Kong met with their insurance company-representative, while a fire-damage restoration crew were on the scene tending to the mess upstairs:

And down:

“It’s unbelievable,” says Lily, who recalled for me the hours leading up to the fire. She and her husband left the restaurant around 2 a.m. after a busy Friday night only to be awakened by a phone call from their alarm company around 5:45. “They said, `You’ve got a motion detector alarm going off.'” The Kongs thought it might be a wayward party balloon sounding the alarm (not for the first time) and considered heading back to the restaurant to check when the person monitoring the system said, “Your windows are cracking,” causing further bells and whistles on the computer at alarm-central. “That’s when we said, `Oh my God! Call 911 right now!'” Lily recalls. “By the time we got there, there were police cars and fire trucks blocking the street, and the minute they cracked the doors open, the smoke came flying out of the whole building, just shooting out every window.”

By 9:30 a.m. the fire department had things under control and a member of their investigating-team interviewed the Kongs — longtime owners of the late Perche No on Lower Queen Anne, seen below with their sons at their new Green Lake restaurant on a happier occasion:

photo/Steve Ringman

They answered questions including “Did you fire anybody lately?” and “Do you have any enemies?” (No, on both counts, Lily said.) The potential for fire is often on her mind, though, and gas stoves — which can easily and accidentally be left on — have always made her nervous. So she makes it a habit to badger her husband before locking the doors each night. “I always say, Did you turn off this? Did you turn off that? And he always says, `It’s fine, I’ve checked everything.'”

The fire was electrical in nature, Lily says, and officials are uncertain exactly what caused it (the walk-in refrigerator is a possible culprit). Their insurance company will have to assess the restaurant themselves before putting a final figure on the damage, at which point the Kongs hope to quickly get the ball rolling on a kitchen rebuild. “I had to cancel a lot of parties. Birthdays, rehearsal dinners,” Lily says. “Fortunately my builder is around and he can help rebuild. At first I thought it would only be a couple of weeks until we reopen, and now we think it will be a month or more.” The sooner they reopen, the better she says. In this economy, “We don’t want to lose any more business than we have to.”

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