La Residence Restaurant will be closed until December following a fire on June 12.
According to the official Chapel Hill Fire Department report, a Chapel Hill police officer on patrol reported fire and smoke coming from the site at approximately 6 a.m. Responders managed to put out the fire within 40 minutes. The fire damaged half of the kitchen, and smoke damage to the rest of the site was extensive.
John Gualtieri, the operations manager of La Residence, said the fire was caused by a window air conditioning unit in the kitchen that short-circuited and caught fire.
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.