Early morning fire shuts down Grappa Ristorante until further notice

13 Apr 2017 | 05:58


— An automatic fire alarm at 22 Railroad Ave. in the Village of Warwick was triggered at 5:24 a.m. this past Wednesday, April 12.
The address is the home of one of the area's most popular restaurants, Grappa Ristorante, and its lower level café, La Piazza Wine Bar & Martini Lounge.
Volunteer firefighters from the Warwick Fire Department, along with the additional assistance of the Chester, Greenwood Lake and Upper Greenwood Lake fire departments, quickly responded to the alarm.
The fire took a few hours to contain and there was no one in the building at the time of the fire.
At about 2:30 p.m., clean up crews were in the scene and the fire and building inspectors were expected to arrive shortly to investigate.
Railroad Avenue remained closed to traffic for most of the day.
According to building owner Tony Sylaj, the fire, believed to be caused by faulty electrical wiring inside the walls, originated in the former location of La Piazza at 24 Railroad Ave. That space had been vacant after the wine bar was moved to a new location on the other side of the entrance to Grappa Ristorante.
The restaurant, which had severe smoke damage, is on the second floor.
Besides the heavy damage to the vacant former La Piazza facility, nearby businesses in the Railroad Avenue Courtyard including the FriYo Yogurt Café and the Olive Oil Company suffered smoke damage and were temporarily closed for clean-up.
Sylaj, who also owns the restaurant and the lounge with his business partner Nick Ahmetaj, said Grappa Ristorante would be closed until further notice.
"We had heavy smoke damage in the restaurant," Sylaj said in a statement, "but the bigger issue is that the beams above the vacant store were burned. And they support the flooring for the second floor. We don't want anybody to get hurt."
He and Ahmetaj spent most of the day meeting with insurance representatives, engineers and the building inspector.
"We'll try to reopen as soon as possible," said Sylaj, "but I'll know more next week."
"Thank God no one was hurt," Sylaj added in an interview.
He added that he is disappointed that Grappa Ristorante will likely be closed for the Easter holiday. There were 200 reservations expected this weekend.
In addition, a fund raiser for Backpack Snack Attack at Grappa Ristorante, scheduled for Monday, April 24, has been put on hold.

Erika Norton contributed to reporting to this story.