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What local restaurants are doing to help after fire closes the Tobacco Company

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-10 22:05:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Clean-up is under way after a three-alarm fire at a popular Shockoe Slip restaurant set to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Fire crews responded to the Tobacco Company restaurant on the 1200 block of E. Cary Street for a report of a fire at 10:03 Saturday morning. When firefighters arrived on scene, they found fire coming from the roof of the four-floor establishment. It was determined the fire had started in the kitchen area.

“We’re now in the assessing and getting it figured out so we can get it open as soon as possible,” said Tobacco Company Director of Operations, Mike Byrne.

“This place is sound structurally and a lot of it is intact so now it’s just a matter of cleaning it up putting some new equipment in and getting it open,” he added.

Monday, crews were inside the condemned building gutting the damage while potential guests looked on.

“When we come in from out of town, we live in Northern Virginia, this is some place we always hit,” said Warrenton, Virginia resident Welby Griffin. “I was horrified to hear something had happened, because the original woodwork they have, the old elevator, there’s no place like it really.”

Byrne said his priority is getting his 120 employees back to work and start serving the community again.

“We have a great management team here, great staff and we are going to do everything in our power to get it open as soon as possible,” said Byrne.

“We all know each other in our industry and there is a lot of good communication going on,” he said. “People are reaching out saying we will do what we can do.”

Mike Byrne

Restaurants like Sam Millers have offered to help.

“We’re working with them. Our banquet coordinator and their banquet coordinator, helping them out to accommodate those guests planning to have large parties as well as employees at Tobacco Company to get them over here and maybe work some shifts and supplement their income,” said Sam Millers' Restaurant General Manager Nathan Allen.

Byrne said while he doesn’t know when they will re-open, they will re-open.

“Anything that happened there is very fixable.  We’re not going anywhere, I can guarantee you that and we’ll be open as soon as we can,” said Byrne.

The fire was upgraded to a third alarm fire just before 11:30 a.m. as additional personnel was requested to prevent any of the firefighters on scene from over exerting themselves in the heated conditions.

Everyone inside was safely evacuated from the building.

Lt. Chris Armstrong said a restaurant employee was treated on scene for smoke inhalation.

"We are saddened to report that the restaurant and club will be closed until further notice due to a building fire. We are thankful that no one was seriously injured. We will do our best to contact and redirect any guests who have reservations in the coming weeks," the restaurant wrote on Facebook.

The fire was marked under control at 11:55 a.m.

Jearald Cable opened The Tobacco Company Restaurant in July 1977 and continued to add antiques to the interior including a more than 90-bulb chandelier, brass elevator, and grand walnut staircase salvaged from the old St. Luke’s Hospital in Richmond, according to their website.

It's unclear the extent of damage inside the Tobacco Company, but an administrator on their Facebook page said "we are currently still assessing and are unsure at this time when we will reopen."

The official cause of the fire remains under investigation.​