North Beach: Horrific Fire Damages Numerous Businesses, Caffe Roma Closes

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Saturday’s devastating four-alarm blaze in North Beach. Photo courtesy of Justin Deering.

Saturday evening, I was home in bed and watching in horror on Twitter as a four-alarm fire in North Beach tore through the 650 block of Union Street, primarily the building at 659 Union (between Powell and Columbus). Amazingly no one was injured, and it ends up the majority of the building was vacant upstairs due to a previous fire in 2013 (remember when Coit Liquor and Rogue Ales suffered from that fire?). Well, unfortunately, the list of damaged businesses is much graver this time: it doesn’t look like Rogue Ales will reopen according to their Facebook page, and Tuk Tuk Thai, The Salzburg, and Ferry Plaza Seafood all have serious damage. Eater reports that nearby Michelangelo Caffe has also sustained fire-related damage.

We’ll have to see what happens in coming days, but here’s one glimmer of help: Hoodline reports that Interim Mayor Mark Farrell has activated the Small Business Disaster Relief fund, which means “each business impacted will be allowed to access up to $10,000 in financial assistance for inventory replacement, equipment purchases, employee salaries, and even security deposits for new leases elsewhere.” With more than 50 employees affected, this fund is truly helpful. The Salzburg—which was such a beautiful bar handcrafted by owner Jay Esopenko and had just opened back in September— has also launched a GoFundMe, you can read more here. Best wishes to all as they try to recover, I will keep you posted on updates.

Since we’re in the neighborhood: just around the corner, it ends up ~CAFFE ROMA~ has closed after 29 years. According to a note in the window, they decided “not to renew our lease and concentrate on our families and other Caffe Roma locations,” so their SoMa location (885 Bryant St. at 7th) and Millbrae location remain open. You can read more in the post in Hoodline. 526 Columbus Ave. at Union.