Top-Rated Los Gatos Restaurant Manresa Damaged in Fire

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Was it accidental or arson? One of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country is shut down Monday night. Flames quickly climbed up the wall of Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos Monday morning. And in just the last hour, the owner has arrived at the restaurant. NBC Bay Area’s Marianne Favro reports from Los Gatos with new details. (Published Monday, Jul 7, 2014)

    It will take several months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair damage from a fire that started outside a top-rated Bay Area restaurant, according to the Santa Clara County Fire Department.

    Firefighters took about an hour to bring the two-alarm fire burning at the Michelin-rated Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos under control early Monday morning.

    The fire department received a phone call shortly before 4 a.m. from a person who noticed fire coming from the roof of the restaurant at 320 Village Lane, only about 100 yards from the county's fire station on University Avenue, Pearson said.

    Firefighters said once the heat caused the gas meter to fail, the fire gained intensity, fueled by plastic trays and storage containers stacked outside the restaurant.

    Manresa, which closed on July 3 and was to reopen Wednesday, sustained structural damage to its attic and ceiling and water and smoke damage throughout its interior, Santa Clara County fire Battalion Chief Kendall Pearson said.

    Raw Video: Fire Crews Battle Fire at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos

    [BAY] Raw Video: Fire Crews Battle Fire at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos
    Fire crews could be seen battling flames erupting from the roof at the Michelin 2-star Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos early Monday morning. (Published Monday, Jul 7, 2014)

    Santa Clara County fire cause investigator Dennis Johnsen said the restaurant suffered $300,000-400,000 in damage, which could take up to four to five months to repair.

    The fire department received a phone call at 3:58 a.m. from a person who noticed fire coming from the roof of the restaurant at 320 Village Lane, only about 100 yards from the county's fire station on University Avenue, Pearson said.

    Firefighters arrived in moments, saw the fire coming from the attic of the building and the response was increased to two alarms, according to Pearson.

    Crews then punched holes in the roof and ceiling of the restaurant to get to the flames and had it extinguished in about an hour.

    Most of the structural damage was to the attic and rafters above the storage and kitchen areas, Pearson said.

    The kitchen was still intact but there was considerable smoke and water damage inside the restaurant. Its owners will have to clean it up, obtain bids from builders, permits from the city of Los Gatos and work with their insurance company, Pearson said.

    "That's going to take some time," he said.

    Manresa took its usual annual break during the Fourth of July weekend and fire investigators are not yet sure what touched the fire off since the place had been closed for several days, Pearson said.

    So far, there is no evidence of arson and the cause might be related to utilities in the building, Pearson said.

    Manresa, known for its chef David Kinch, was included recently by the magazine Wine Enthusiast as among the top 100 wine restaurants in the country, according to the magazine's website.

    The restaurant, which has earned a two-star Michelin rating eight years in a row, has a popular multiple-course chef's tasting menu and a wine list with more than 500 selections, according to the magazine.

    Kinch, who wrote a cookbook based on the restaurant's offerings, uses fruits and vegetables grown at Love Apple Farms, a farm built on the side of a mountain in Santa Cruz. He received "Best Chef in America" honors from the James Beard Foundation in 2012.

    Kinch returned to California from New York to assess the damage.

    “We’re devastated,” Kinch said. “The restaurant burned down. I’m really thankful to the Santa Clara County Fire Department. They’re about 200 feet away from us. They responded and they did a magnificent job. It could have been a lot worse.”

    The fire at Manresa is reminding some of another recent fire at a nationally recognized Bay Area restaurant: Last year, fire damaged Alice Waters' Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. In that case, the restaurant's facade took the brunt of the damage. The kitchen, cafe, and main dining room were all spared, but it did take three months before the restaurant could reopen.

     

    Bay City News contributed reporting.