Frances Gualtieri, owner of La Residence, said the smoke damage destroyed a number of irreplaceable items that the restaurant had collected throughout its 40-year operation.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking right now,” she said.
Frances Gualtieri is looking forward to reopening the site later this year, though she said the half-million dollars currently being spent in repairs are daunting.
John Gualtieri said they are updating the building’s fire suppression capabilities, which include a full sprinkler system. They are also renovating their patio space with the help of the Chapel Hill Planning Department.
John Gualtieri said the community has been helpful in the wake of the incident.
“The other restaurants have been really gracious with helping us — with our staff, and taking people on,” he said.
John Gualtieri said several area restaurants hosted events on behalf of La Residence, including a high tea ceremony for the Jane Austen Society at City Kitchen in University Place.
Cassie Piercy, the general manager at City Kitchen, said the restaurant took on the event after hearing about the fire through an employee.
“In the moment, we asked when the tea was, knowing our glass room was available as an event space,” she said.
Luckily, a set of vintage British teacups from the 1930s — integral for the ceremony — survived the fire. Piercy said the teacups belonged to Amanda Fisher, who was using La Residence as an event space and commissary kitchen for her pastry company, the Blakemere Company, at the time of the incident. Fisher is now working out of City Kitchen.
John Gualtieri said La Residence is slated to reopen by early December.