Restaurateurs vow to reopen following fire
Following a kitchen fire Wednesday morning, one Cape Coral couple has every intention of rebuilding and reopening their restaurant within a few months.
At 6:08 a.m., fire units responded to a 911 call about smoke coming from the roof of First Round Draft Sports Bar and Grille, at 1217 Del Prado Blvd. S. Upon arriving, crews observed heavy black smoke exiting from the roof.
Firefighters entered the building through the kitchen and attacked the fire, according to officials. The fire was contained to the kitchen and was put out by 6:32 a.m. The restaurant was vacant at the time and no one was injured.
Owners Dave and Judy Ramage said Thursday that the business will reopen.
“Our plan at this point is to rebuild,” Judy Ramage said.
First Round Draft opened in July 2008. The restaurant employed about 30 people at the time of the fire. Ramage said she and her husband are trying to fold the First Round Draft employees into shifts at their second restaurant, The Dog Bar and Grille, located at 3522 Del Prado Blvd. S.
“A lot of these staff people do not have savings accounts, so they need to have jobs and steady income,” she said. “We’re doing our best to work them into The Dog.”
Employees at The Dog have already offered to give up shifts for the First Round Draft employees, and some from First Round Draft volunteered their time Thursday to help with the clean-up efforts at their closed restaurant.
“It’s been absolutely wonderful, the response from the staff,” Ramage said.
She added that the community has also shown its support, with sales at The Dog higher Thursday than normal and more customers frequenting the establishment.
Ramage said the support is good because The Dog has to absorb those First Round Draft employees for the time being.
“We need to be busier at this location,” she said.
The Dog Bar will honor all gift certificates from First Round Draft, as well as the restaurant’s most valuable player cards.
According to officials, a Cape fire inspector determined that the cause of the fire was accidental, and that the heat source was an electrical overload in an outlet near the rear door of the kitchen’s stock area. The building has been yellow tagged by city inspectors, meaning limited access is permitted.
Ramage praised the job that the Cape firefighters did Wednesday.
“The fire department was excellent. They got that fire out in 22 minutes,” she said. “They did an outstanding job.”
Early estimates from officials placed the damage at $100,000.
Ramage said the final figure will probably be three or more times that.
“The entire inside of the building has to be gutted down to the walls,” she said. “There’s soot on everything.”
The kitchen sustained fire damage, and the front has smoke damage.
Ramage said the fire was so intense in the kitchen that cookware like the iron skillets melted.
The couple also lost about 30 televisions to damage.
“Fortunately, we have insurance, and we’re going to be able to rebuild,” she said. “It’s probably going to take us three to four months to get it done.”
As for the rebuilding plans, the new place will mirror the old restaurant.
“We were successful with those things before, so we’re going to keep it very similar to what we had there,” Ramage said.