Cartucci’s hopes to reopen in a month

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2013

Though a fire shut down his restaurant Tuesday, Cartucci’s owner Ted Aurora said Wednesday he’s glad the damage wasn’t worse and hopes to reopen within a month.
The fire began around 5 p.m. at the East Fisher Street business, and firefighters had it out within an hour.
When fire crews arrived on the scene, they found smoke coming from an exhaust vent near the back of the restaurant. The front of the restaurant, though smoky, has no apparent fire damage.
Other businesses on East Fisher had to evacuate while crews from multiple stations responded to the fire that is believed to have started near the air conditioning unit at the back of the building.
Firefighters placed tarps over the front counter, bar and tables inside the restaurant, and for that Aurora is grateful. He believes the tarps spared his equipment and tables from serious damage.
Though he suspects it will be a month before the restaurant is up and ready, Aurora wants to reopen as soon as possible. There were five employees at the restaurant at the time, Aurora said, and one person who was training. He said contrary to reports of an explosion, there was none. It was an electrical surge that blew out lights in the restaurant. The employees alerted neighboring businesses to evacuate.
Aurora was thankful for the quick-thinking employees.
“The employees are sharp. Once they realized there was a problem, calm heads prevailed,” he said.
Aurora took ownership two years ago of Cartucci’s, which has been in business seven years.
Tuesday evening, he received numerous text messages from friends and family.
“They wanted to know if I was OK,” he said.
Aurora didn’t know what the messages were referring to, but soon found out there was a fire at the restaurant. He rushed to Cartucci’s, all the while expecting to see busted windows, fire and smoke coming from the building.
“I was thrilled to see how little damage there was,” Aurora said.
The majority of the damage was confined to the kitchen area and some damage to the food preparation area. Firefighters had to knock down a wall into the next building, Watkins Fitness, to ensure there was no fire inside it. The building is owned by Helen Watkins, who said she was waiting for an insurance adjuster to assess the damage.
Much of Aurora’s day on Wednesday was spent waiting for others to assess what was salvageable.
The health department checked the refrigeration system to determine if there was food that could be saved. Aurora said he does have to throw out a lot of items, but there is some food kept cold enough despite the power being turned off. Duke Energy cut the power to the structure so firefighters could get into the building.
“My main concern is the kitchen,” Aurora said.
The kitchen will likely need a complete overhaul, but Aurora won’t know the extent of the needed repairs until after the insurance assessment. He also spent Wednesday looking for a place to store the food he was able to salvage. He said local restaurants have stepped forward to offer help.
He tries to keep a positive attitude about the situation, even joking that when people asked if he was OK he responded with, “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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