PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead firefighters outside Cliff’s Rendezvous after last Tuesday’s grease fire.
Cliff’s Rendezvous is slowly recovering and rebuilding from a fire at the popular downtown eatery last week, the restaurant’s owner said Monday.
Owner Cliff Saunders said last Tuesday’s fire started when one of the chefs in the kitchen left a pan of bacon unattended near the oven and the boiler.
“It must’ve spattered and that’s why it ignited,” Mr. Saunders said.
The Riverhead Fire Department arrived at the restaurant shortly before 3 p.m. to extinguish the blaze. The firefighting effort closed down a part of East Main Street between Union and Maple avenues for about an hour before roads were reopened.
As a result of the fire, the restaurant suffered minor damage and has been closed since last week, Mr. Saunders said. A small section of the roof near the chimney was charred as a result of the fire, he said, adding that carpeting in the lower dining room was damaged and will have to be replaced as well.
“There was some damage from the firemen using the hose,” Mr. Saunders said. “It washed out into the dining room and it kind of flooded the floor so we had to tear the carpet up … The damage is fairly minimal, it’s just a matter of rebuilding.”
Mr. Saunders said he hopes to reopen the restaurant within a week or two.
He said he was grateful for the outpouring of support from both town employees and the community.
“The town has been nothing but stellar,” Mr. Saunders said. “A couple of our customers work for the town and they want to see us open.”
Just a few days after the fire at Cliff’s Rendezvous, a major fire occurred at Athens Grill just down the street. Having been through a similar, but less severe incident, Mr. Saunders is sympathetic to what his neighbors are going through now and was glad no one was hurt in either fire.
“If you drive down Main Street past Athens Grill you can still smell [the smoke] in the road,” Mr. Saunders said. “I just hope they can get everything repaired, because something like that could have happened to us.”